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Systematic Literature Review of Electronic Monitoring of Offenders

NCJ Number
Petri Danielsson; Leena Makipaa
Date Published
100 pages
This English summary of a Finnish study reviews relevant studies on the impact of electronic monitoring (EM) in the context of criminal sanctions.
For the purpose of the review, the focus is on "any electronic monitoring that included methods based on radio frequency, cellular or GPS technology, and phone lines, but not surveillance cameras." The study concludes that EM reduces technical violations when used with offenders on probation; however, some studies found less behavioral impact of EM with drug-using offenders or those convicted of sexual or violent offenses. The study found that evidence of the effects of EM has remained relatively uncertain in spite of its widespread use; however, the evidence is sufficient to argue with a relatively high certainty that EM decreases technical violations (rule-breaking, absconding, and new crimes) during the monitoring period compared to offenders who are not monitored electronically. There was little or no indication that using EM increased technical violations. Although some studies found that the impact of EM varied among offenders according to the offenses they committed, studies differed on which types of criminality were more or less impacted by EM. Some studies found evidence that early release from prison under EM might decrease recidivism after the sentence is completed. Other studies found that programs with a substance-abuse treatment component or cognitive therapy decreased reoffending after the program. Some studies attributed this to EM's link to improved program completion rates. Some studies suggested that electronically monitored home confinement reduced recidivism after the sanction was completed compared to imprisonment or a period of community service. 73 references