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Innovation and technological advances have made it possible for it to be integrated into most networks. Technology has consequently become crucial to these networks. The United States Department of Corrections is included in this. This is due to the fact that technology is now used not only to monitor criminals who are incarcerated but also to monitor criminals who have been given parole or other forms of community corrections. The integration of technology into intermediate penalties and the problems that result from it are examined in this essay.
For the purpose of discussing community corrections and supervision, the idea of an offender's danger to those around him is essential. This is because research has shown an emerging trend in correctional facilities around the world that the incarceration of offenders who pose low risks to the public is counter-productive to both the offender and the correctional institution. Thus, what such institutions result to is the provision for a scenario where such offenders complete their sentences from without the penitentiaries (Siegel & Worall, 2013). However, such an action requires appropriate supervision of the offender. With the success of technology for monitoring in other fields such as in security, it makes sense for it to be integrated into the supervision of the offenders.
Supervision of parolees, probationers and other types of unconventional convicts is in line with the principle of public safety that correctional facilities adhere to. This is because among the roles of the justice system is to make sure that the public is protected from dangerous felons. Moreover, research shows that offenders respond to these unconventional correctional measures more than they do to incarceration. This is since the latter exposes small time offenders to more seasoned criminals in lock up, where the offenders pick up habits that increase their risk of recidivism thereby defeating the purpose of initial incarceration; which is rehabilitation.
In community supervision, technology has mainly been used in monitoring of probationers and parolees. Several technologies have served to facilitate this objective. Examples of these technologies include the use of radio frequencies and global positioning systems. The severity of monitoring provided by each type of technology is in proportion to the risk the offender poses to the public (Renzema & Mayo-Wilson, 2005). For instance, radio frequency technologies are applied to lower risk offenders when compared to global positioning systems. Gadgets such as ankle bracelets, which use radio frequency, do not provide a real time supervision of criminals but simply inform parole officers if the paroles had left his residence. Moreover, they do not provide information on where the parolee had gone to. Global positioning systems however can pinpoint the exact location of a parolee if need be. They are thereby assigned to higher risk offenders.
Another technology used for monitoring is voice recognition. This technology can give a unique signature to every human voice and for that reason is used in self-reporting capacities where offenders contacts their parole officers thereby saving them the trouble of frequent visitations to their residence to establish whether the parolees are in the agreed-upon status. The technology is aided by an additional interface processing parolees’ responses to certain queries about their well-being. However, for a parolee to qualify for the automated feedback system, he or she must have been approved after passing through the conventional system. The technology has recorded success in its first three months of adoption since ninety five percent of all offenders called in.
The use of voice recognition also helped to reduce overcrowding in parole offices as offenders sought to get assessed. Moreover, parole officers were allowed to concentrate on higher risk offenders. In addition to that, technology has helped save lots of tax money used in the conventional process. For example, Georgia State used teleconferencing for parole hearings thereby saving about 17,718 USD over half a year. The state’s parole and probation agency further planted GPS systems on high risk offender’s phones, thereby reducing costs previously associated with acquisition of standalone GPS gadgets (Reddy & Levin, 2014).
Another technology used in supervising offenders is monitoring of their computer use. This is especially useful to cyber criminals and sex offenders. The methods used in these technologies include key-logging of their computers, creation of a direct feed of their computer activities or through the filtering of their records with their respective internet service providers (Russo, 2006). Whichever technology used in this scenario, the result is almost always the creation of a perception of being watched, which invariably prevents recidivism. Sex offenders’ computers can also be screened for child pornography and other similar forms of evidence.
With the increased need for community corrections, it is crucial that law enforcement and the corrections department come up with ways to increase the effectiveness of correctional supervision. Technology as an alternative and supplement to conventional supervision is an important factor since it not only increases the effectiveness of supervision, but also saves money otherwise spent on the conventional methods. As an alternative, it is best applied to low risk offenders while as a supplement, it is useful for more intrusive monitoring to high risk offenders.
Reddy, V. P., & Levin, M. A. (2014). Cutting Edge Corrections: Using Technology to Improve Community Supervision in Texas. Austin: Texas Public Policy Foundation.
Renzema, M., & Mayo-Wilson, E. (2005). Can electronic monitoring reduce crime fpr moderate to high-risk offenders? Journal of Experimental Criminology, 215-237.
Russo, J. (2006). Emerging Technologies For Community Corrections. Corrections Today, 26-28.
Siegel, L., & Worall, J. (2013). Introduction to Criminal Justice. Toronto: Nelson Education.
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