Stretching back to Medieval times the “Go directly to jail, do not pass Go, do not collect $200” approach to offender processing was all that existed. More recently, offender tags offered a way of semi-releasing said offenders back into society, yet purportedly placing heavy restrictions on the role they can play within it via curfew enforcement.
Offender tags, once mated with a fixed device installed in the offender’s home, would trigger if the offender wasn’t present by X time. Then, their immediate (re)arrest would be triggered.
Many would argue that tags don’t work; it’s true that locking someone up for 12 hours a day doesn’t solve a problem. With the IoT revolution, we can now control individuals to unprecedented levels, protecting society immediately whilst improving society longer term by reducing re-offending rates.
The next generation of tags stop offenders from doing very specific things, all of which satisfy the vital “public protection” element of incarceration. Some of the most socially-dangerous offenders are perfectly respectable—until they’re drunk. Sobriety tags, such as the SCRAM CAM (Continuous Alcohol Monitoring), monitor perspiration for alcohol traces and can genuinely offer the public protection against substance-abuse-derived offenses. It works by transdermal testing, as 1% of consumed alcohol is excreted through the skin. The SCRAM CAM last month completed its 2 billionth test, with over 483,000 participants in the program.
When we introduce continual GPS monitoring, such tags prevent offenses in two similar but distinct ways:
Geo-fencing facilitates controlling offenders who are, for good reason, barred from certain places. Those with alcohol problems may naturally be barred from bars and nightclubs, but also ex-partners’ homes, places of work, etc. Those detained under sexual deviancy legislation can also be barred from potential trouble-spots. Though as a parent, I concede I struggle morally with allowing any individuals at the latter end of this scale with any opportunity to offend. Geo-fencing’s raison d’être is reducing the opportunity to re-offend.
The other benefit of continual GPS monitoring doesn’t involve restricting an individual’s freedom to roam. It naturally takes a special kind of idiot to commit offenses when they can immediately and unequivocally be linked to that crime. Such reactive monitoring is designed to be less intrusive for offenders in later stages of rehabilitation; as long as they aren’t linked to crimes, they can live their life. That provides the freedom to rebuild away from what would have been a life of criminality.
With the advances in smart automotive providing a more computerized human-machine interface, such devices can combine locally-derived transdermal and position monitoring to work in tandem with the power of the cloud. Use cases may involve law enforcement remotely retrieving vehicle details when identified as being commandeered by a parole violator, or even be able to (safely) stop the vehicle.
However we choose to use the “big data” we gather from the next generation of offender tags, in these circumstances surely all data is good data and should lead to a safer society.