Voice of the Monitored

Keeping an eye on the monitors


March 2015

Kleiman’s Master Plan to Use GPS to Build Prisons in the Community

Mark KleimanIn his posting “We Don’t Need to Keep Criminals in Prison to Punish Them,” Prof. Mark Kleiman has come up with what he thinks is the solution to what he would likely call over-incarceration: relocate people in their thousands, including people with violent criminal convictions, to government apartments in the community where they would be under 24 hour surveillance, have a GPS tracker to record their every move, only be allowed out for certain basic things, and have their conditions eased if they manage to find a job.  At first pass, this may seem to make sense. But the essence of the proposal is to relocate prison from the current institutions to the community without changing much else. We will be building another network of carceral institutions right in the community (and you know they won’t be in the posh, lily-white  suburbs).  Kleiman sweetens his version of mass incarceration by promising individuals gradual increases in their freedom if they find a job. Hmmm, has Prof. Kleiman climbed into the body of a person with a felony conviction recently and looked for a job? And if there are another few hundred thousand of such folks on the job market, how will that look?

But setting that aside for a moment, how is this going to save money? His proposal doesn’t say anything about closing down dozens of prisons and laying off thousands of guards. And if we are going to cut the prison population by say 20% with this proposal, where do we find the money to buy or rent nearly half a million apartments? (he says they have to be efficiencies-one person only. Solitary, in other words.)

Like all utopians still mired in the punishment paradigm, Kleiman cannot come to grips with the fact that ending mass incarceration means that people with felony convictions cannot be treated like dogs on a retractable leash. Full human rights for full human beings. Relocating prisons to low rent apartment complexes without rebuilding communities is another cheap quick fix that will just add a new chapter of misery to the ongoing saga of mass incarceration.

Courts Consider Legality of Lifetime GPS Monitoring

Screen-Shot-2015-03-20-at-12.21.19-PM-640x484At least nine states impose lifetime GPS monitoring on people with some categories of sex offenses. The current court case of Torry Grady in North Carolina is examining the constitutionality of this practice? Is is a violation of Fourth Amendment privacy rights? Can it be imposed in a civil proceeding? In the case of Jones v. the United States, the court decided that it was an invasion of privacy to install a GPS tracker on a vehicle that was parked on private property. Does this have any relevance to tracking human beings? Ultimately, this current case in North Carolina raises the fundamental issue behind this blog: what rights and entitlement do people who are on  electronic monitoring because of involvement in the criminal justice system have? Also, is GPS monitoring a form of liberty deprivation or merely a condition like not being allowed to drink alcohol? Big questions as the use of GPS advances. Keep an eye on this case.

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