Electronic monitoring of prisoners (GPS, Radio, X-Rays, Scanning, Ankles, etc.)

Criminal Justice

Electronic monitoring of prisoners (GPS, Radio, X-Rays, Scanning, Ankles, etc.)

My perspective is that electronic monitoring is a good that but with a high potential of being abused by the criminal justice system – intentionally or unintentionally. First off, there are clear benefits of having monitoring aided by technology. Stowell (2007) for instance expounds on how easy it becomes to monitor prisoner movements in correctional facilities when using video cameras. Also, detecting contraband such as weapons and drugs is made easy with x-ray scanners and handheld scanning devices. Rhodes (2007) also highlights benefits of technology including the fact that it makes work abstract allowing even women to control prisons and elevates prison work to middle-class kind of work. This is given remote control booths for instance can have prison officers opening and closing doors and issuing instructions without being physically next to the prisoners.

Technology also, according to the explanation by Rhodes (2007), has the potential to uplift the nature of prison work such that it can be attractive to middle-class workers. In addition, a benefit that both Rhodes (2007) and Stowell (2007) agree upon is the establishment of control in prisons with technology being critical in solving problems and creating order. Outside the prison, as noted by Padgett, Bales, and Blomberg (2006), the global position system (GPS) and radio-frequency technologies allow for the monitoring of home offenders in home confinement. The findings in that study showed that when the technology was applied, the offenders were more serious about observing the home confinement restrictions. Overall, therefore, my perspective on the good side of electronic monitoring is supported by significant evidence.

Need a paper like this one? Order here –

However, electronic monitoring has deep-rooted disadvantages that could jeopardize its usefulness especially in correctional facilities. One immediate drawback is that prisoners lack privacy which to an extent could lead to mental anguish. An even more extreme effect, as described by Rhodes (2007, p. 555) is that ‘Stacking’ of information on prisoners can skew perception of their actions because an angry outburst for example can easily be tied to other historical “truths” about them rather than the context within which the outburst occurred. This is where data is used to make all decisions that it fades out chances of treating situations based on the context in which they occur. In my opinion this goes against the whole spirit of reforming and individual.

Further, Rhodes (2007) argues that weapons bearing technology that is invasive in nature – intrusion into the body – and that is degrading as they are associated with control of animals. This is the part where electronic monitoring becomes an invasion of the body and could lead to prisoners viewing themselves in very low regard ultimately isolating themselves from attributes that could help them reintegrate into society. Similarly, suppressive punishment, aided by electronic monitoring, is counterintuitive if the goal is to reform prisoners and prepare them for a future role in society.

I therefore see electronic monitoring as a tool that should be used in a limited fashion since even Rhodes (2007, p. 553) states that “…no amount of monitoring and management can completely control the behaviour of prisoners”. The technology should be applied sparingly. The improvement in its application also should be that it is geared towards reforming prisoners as much as it is geared towards enhancing performance. The performance bit is already catered for as Rhodes (2007, p. 554) notes that “Computerized control is multipurpose and multidirectional, monitoring staff as well as prisoners and contributing to the imposition of new performance standards”. Reform of the prisoners themselves, whether they are in supermax or other jail facilities, should be a priority of electronic monitoring.


Padgett, K. G., Bales, W. D., & Blomberg, T. G. (2006). Under surveillance: An empirical test of the effectiveness and consequences of electronic monitoring. Criminology & Public Policy, 5(1), 61-91.

Rhodes, L. A. (2007). Supermax as a technology of punishment. Social Research: An International Quarterly, 74(2), 547-566.

Stowell, J. I. (2007). Institutional Corrections and Hard Technology (From The New Technology of Crime, Law and Social Control, P 227-244, 2007, James M. Byrne and Donald J. Rebovich, eds.–See NCJ-218026).

Need a paper like this one? Order here –

Leave your thought here

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *