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People and Politics Forum 29.08.2008

"Should electronic tagging replace prison sentences?"

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More information:

Convict Monitoring Programs - Life on The Outside

It's a small, inconspicuous transmitter and it is attached to your ankle. A convict has to wear it day and night and if he doesn't he lands up back in jail. Hessen is the only German state to use this monitoring system and it seems to be working. Few convicts have broken the rules which involve a strict curfew and punctual appearance at their workplace.

Our Question is:

"Should electronic tagging replace prison sentences?"

And, starting off, Reinhard Hirschmann in the Philippines has this to say:

"It can't be a substitute but it could relieve the pressure on overcrowded prisons, at least in less serious cases because most inmates aren't exactly murderers."

René Junghans, in Brazil, says resozialisation is also a major factor:

""....It would help first-time offenders who didn't resort to violence to learn from their mistakes. Locking them up in prison would very probably turn them into hardened criminals, which would damage, not help society. Electronic tags have been used successfully in the USA, and I think they are a modern way of showing offenders the right path to take."

A point taken up by Gerhard Seeger, a viewer in the Philippines:

"Depends on the crime and the perpetrator. Violent criminals and sex offenders would have to be kept behind bars. Other than that, each case should be judged individually. Electronic tagging should be used where possible because prison doesn't change people for the better: the opposite is usually the case."

That doesn't impress Rahul Deshmukh, in India:

"Allowing a criminal to roam around with an electronic tag makes no sense at all. What if he harms someone, robs someone, threatens someone? Who would take the responsibilty? Criminals only deserve to be dumped into the places they deserve to be, i.e. in prisons. That's because people who want to lead a peaceful life want no excuses regarding the same."

Charles Smyth, writing from Britain, ponders the options:

"Given the hugely disproportionate costs associated with prison for comparatively trivial offences, 'ankle tagging' can sometimes be an effective means of satisfying the need for justice to be applied. For those of a persistently criminal persuasion, it is an option to consider and apply to determine if prison is the only alternative with which satisfy the need for justice, even though prison is not considered to be particularly effective beyond limiting someone to a specific location under supervision, for a specific period of time."

Mike Binis, in New Zealand, agrees but demands clear conditions:

"If ankle bracelets allow complete tracking, as with GPS, so locations are recorded precisely at all times, then this is absolutely preferable to - and cheaper than - overcrowding prisons. But if all they do is give a check-in/check-out time at home, the danger to society is still an issue."

but Joy Kerr, also in New Zealand, remains skeptical and widens the issue:

"Should the monitoring program be unsuccessful, I do not believe a country's citizens should foot the bill for keeping an immigrant in jail in the offender's adopted country of residence. They should be sent back to their country of origin."

And Michael Stanek, based in Brazil, writes:

"Using ankle tags is the right way to go - but only for first-time offender. The only way to contain multiple offenders is to detain them in prison."

The People and Politics desk reserves the right to edit and abbreviate texts.