We now have added "Informational Posts" which are tidbits of information that may come in handy at some point.

A Quantitative and Qualitative Assessment of Electronic Monitoring

January 2010:


Research Purposes: The purposes of this research include: (1) determining the effect of electronic monitoring (EM) as a supervision enhancement for offenders in terms of absconding, probation violations, and the commission of new crimes; (2) providing an explanation of the findings; (3) documenting the implementation of EM; (4) identifying and documenting the impact that EM has on offenders’ personal relationships, families, employment, and assimilation within the community; and (5) developing evidence-based recommendations to improve public safety and lessen negative consequences for offenders and their families.

Research Design and Methodology: Data sources include: (1) administrative data from the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC), which include 5,034 medium- and highrisk offenders on EM and 266,991 offenders not placed on EM over a six year period; and (2) qualitative data collected through face-to-face interviews with 105 offenders, 36 supervising officers, and 20 administrators from fourteen counties in Florida. Random assignment of offenders to the experimental (EM) and control (non-EM) groups was not possible; therefore, propensity score matching was employed to establish the two groups. Propensity score matching, as a statistical procedure, is an effective method of selecting subjects for experimental and control groups whereby selection bias is minimized and the groups closely resemble each other across key variables (Rubin, 2006; Rosenbaum, 2002) One-hundred-twenty-two covariates were used to predict EM participation, which enhanced the predictive accuracy of the matching procedure. Cox’s regression techniques were utilized to analyze time-to-failure for various outcome measures. The qualitative data, which included forced-choice and open-ended questions, were systematically analyzed and include descriptive statistics and illustrative quotes from respondents.

Research Results and Conclusions: The quantitative analysis demonstrates that EM reduces offenders’ risk of failure by 31 percent and that global positioning system (GPS) monitoring results in 6 percent fewer supervision failures compared to radio frequency (RF). All categories of offenders, regardless of offense type, experienced fewer supervision violations as a result of EM; however, the effect was reduced for violent offenders. Offenders of all age groups and those on different forms of community supervision benefited from EM.

The findings from the qualitative analysis indicates that: (1) administrators reported that EM goals and objectives were being met; (2) officers’ and offenders’ opinions of EM’s impact on reducing undesirable behavior are consistent with the findings from the quantitative assessment; (3) EM status and equipment does have negative consequences for offenders’ families, employment opportunities, and adjustment in the community; (4) there is a need to refine the selection of offenders identified as the most appropriate for EM; (5) EM is used as an alternative to prison in approximately one-third of the cases; (6) EM devices frequently lose the satellite signal resulting in numerous, unnecessary alerts; (7) EM operations may benefit from increasing judges’ understanding of the equipment, the most appropriate subjects for EM, and key operational aspects of EM; and (8) the most important, recent enhancement to FDOC’s EM program has been the statewide monitoring center that has significantly reduced the number of alerts. This reduction in alerts enables officers to devote more time to essential supervisory responsibilities.

For the remainder of this report: by The Florida State University College of Criminology and Criminal Justice Center for Criminology and Public Policy Research

This report was prepared under Grant 2007-IJ-CX-0017 from the National Institute of Justice. Opinions expressed in this document are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice, Florida State University, or the Florida Department of Corrections.

Selected excerpts pertaining to "Impact on Offenders" (pps-15-16)

3. Offenders and, especially officers, believe EM has negative consequences for the offenders in terms of their relationships with their spouses, significant others, and their children. Practitioners should determine if there are procedures that could be implemented that would reduce these effects.

4. A large proportion of offenders expressed a sense of shame about being on EM and felt they were stigmatized by others in a way that did not represent their actions. Additionally, the majority of offenders believed that media accounts of EM exacerbates the levels of stigma they receive. The current plan to reduce the visibility of the GPS device that receives the satellite signal should help reduce this consequence in the future.

5. Offenders and officers were almost unanimous in their assessment that the electronic tether is a serious detriment to offenders' ability to obtain employment and remain employed.

6. EM does not negatively impact offenders in obtaining adequate housing. However, the state, county, and city zoning restrictions on residency for sex offenders' results in detrimental outcomes that are counter to their intentions. Officers and administrators overwhelmingly expressed that these residency restrictions have significant negative consequences that may result in actually jeopardizing, rather than enhancing, public safety. Policy makers should consider changes to the state laws and local ordinances that establish residency restrictions to address their unintended consequences.

7. A significant portion of offenders on EM who are required by the courts to reimburse the state for the cost of this technology are limited by their ability to abide by this requirement because of the infrequency with which jobs are available among this relatively unskilled and under-education population, other costs offenders must pay for supervision and treatment and other personal financial obligations relating to housing, food, and transportation, child care, etc. These reimbursement requirements should be reevaluated by policy makers to determine their appropriateness among this population.

10. A critical issue that arose during the interviewing process relative to the EM equipment— GPS specifically—was the sometimes frequent problem in which offenders’ MTDs loses a signal with a satellite. Frequent occurrences of losing the satellite signal can be consequential for offenders at their places of work because they have to vacate their areas of responsibility. The FDOC and the EM vendor are well aware of the problem of maintaining satellite signals in certain locations and appear to be doing everything possible to diminish this problem to the extent possible. Continued evaluation in this regard should remain a priority of the EM program.

12. The Statewide Monitoring Center, implemented in October 2007, is clearly one of the most successful enhancements to FDOC’s EM program in the recent past. The strategy has resulted in drastic reductions in the number of minor alerts that officers have to address, which enables them to devote more time to other important matters relating to the supervision of offenders in the community and has expanded the lines of communication and enhanced the working relationship between the FDOC and the vendor to improve the general operation of the EM program. EM programs nationwide should consider including this strategy in their operation.

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