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Voice of the Monitored

Keeping an eye on the monitors

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G4S

British Expert Supports Monitors Instead of Jail for Youth

warrenville youth facilityProfessor Mike Nellis, a leading researcher and policy expert on electronic monitoring, advises using electronic monitors instead of jail time for youth.  He was making this recommendation to the Scottish government which is investigating monitoring in light of the multimillion dollar electronic monitoring scandal involving G4S, the world’s largest security company. G4S admitted to over billing the government some $38 million on monitoring contracts.

Nellis said Scotland should follow the example of Scandinavian countries like Denmark where the assumption is that no youth should be jailed for a sentence of less than six months but should be placed on a monitor or other community sentencing option.

As I read this, I thought of a story which came out on January 16th about a John Howard Association  study of Warrenville ‘ youth facility for girls in Illinois. It costs the taxpayers $177,000 a year to keep one girl there. The downstate facility is a long way from home for most of the youth who come from Chicago. Not surprisingly, 63% of the girls are African American, despite Blacks being only 15% of the state’s total population. Surely Illinois youth justice authorities should be considering options like monitoring under a fair regime rather than locking these girls away hundreds of miles away from home.

Professor Nellis’ urging the Scottish government to follow the example of the Scandinavian countries is advice that US authorities could well heed as well. These countries have lower crime rates than the US and incarcerate at a tenth of the rate of the United States. The criminal justice system is no place to be following the policy of American exceptionalism.

To read the story about Professor Nellis, click here.

To read the Warrenville report, click here.

 

 

 

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G4S Admits to $38m fraud in UK Electronic Monitoring Scheme

g4s-protestG4S which likes to market itself as the “world’s  leading security company” admitted yesterday to defrauding the UK government of about $38 million (24m pounds) in overcharges for electronic monitoring fees. The overcharging, which included billing for the monitoring of people who were deceased or had been sent back to prison. The admission comes after the company commissioned the law firm of Linklater to do a review of their electronic monitoring contracts. In a stunning comment in response to the review’s findings of overcharging and charging of people who had long since been taken off monitoring a company statement said G4S had : “wrongly considered itself to be contractually entitled to bill for monitoring services when equipment had not been fitted or after it had been removed.”  In other words, the world’s largest security company doesn’t understand the idea that a firm is not entitled to collect revenue for services it is not providing.

The G4S case will come before a parliamentary committee this week. The company will be joined by Serco another provider of monitoring services in the United Kingdom. This is not the only scandal brewing in the ranks of  G4S. Just last month, a South African Minister of Corrections took over a 2,900 bed private prison run by G4S in the country’s Free State province. An independent study had uncovered systematic abuse of prisoners, including forced administration of psychotropic medications and regular usage of electroshock to discipline men living in the facility. Earlier in the year the company lost bids for  security contracts at two British universities when students protested over G4S involvement in providing security for Israeli border control and settlements.

To read the Guardian report on the G4S electronic monitoring case go to: http://www.theguardian.com/business/2013/nov/19/g4s-admits-overcharging-ministry-of-justice-tagging

G4S Under Investigation for Overcharging for Electronic Monitoring in the UK

The global security firm G4S is under investigation on contracts for electronic monitoring in the UK valued at more than a billion dollars.  International auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers has been called into scrutinize the details of this 2005 deal, which involved G4S and another security firm, Serco. G4S is a mega-player in the industry with  an annual turnover of more than ten billion dollars and operations in 125 countries, including the US. Allegations include overcharging to an extent that according to one source, the cost of monitoring in the UK was more than ten times the figure for the US. While it is too early to determine the result in this case, the incident does remind us that electronic monitoring is big business and that global security firms like G4S (which botched the security for the 2012 London Olympics) and the US-based GEO Group view EM as a future source of enormous profits.  Untapped markets include the more than four million people on parole and probation in the US, high school students identified as disciplinary problems and undocumented workers.  Although in many minor criminal cases electronic monitoring may be a welcome relief from a jail or prison sentence, for those marketing the services future clients may more likely come from the ranks of those for whom an ankle bracelet represents an additional, profit-generating control rather than a respite from incarceration.

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