EU fundamental rightsThe European Union has published a draft recommendation on electronic monitoring. According to British researcher Mike Nellis, one of the members of the team working on the document, the final version will likely be approved later this year.

While the draft stops short of fully advancing a human rights agenda for monitoring, it contains important clauses which state:

“monitoring shall not be executed in a manner restricting the rights and freedoms of a suspect or an offender to a greater extent than provided for the by the decision imposing it”

The draft extends this agenda to take into account the “rights and interests of families and third parties in the place to which the suspect or offender is confined.”

Apart from these rights recognitions, the document spells out some limitations on the conditions of monitoring regimes, warning that they should not be “so restrictive as to prevent a reasonable quality of everyday life in the community” and that the conditions should “prevent the negative effects of isolation.”

In listening to the stories of people in the US on monitoring and studying the laws and contracts which apply to those being monitored, nowhere have I encountered an explicit acknowledgement of rights akin to what is in the EU document.  Policy makers and legislators in the US would do well to study the directions taken by the European Union in order to ensure that electronic monitoring does not lapse into  a virtual incarceration in the home with families bearing the costs and emotional trauma of that incarceration. To read the entire EU document go here.