Alternative to Prison

This literary review is not intended to provide a blueprint for action, rather it seeks to identify areas where the most significant interpretations can be made. The review looks at policy documents, research reviews, sociological perspectives and websites with a view to distinguish various features which on first glance, may suggest effective and ineffective approaches to this particular topic.

My original plan was to review only the literature regarding the process of electronic tagging within the Criminal Justice System of Scotland. However this has proved impractical as Electronic Tagging has not been sufficiently examined in Scotland as a means of dealing with criminality and therefore the literature was scarce. Therefore I have had to widen my research and take into account literature from the United Kingdom, America and South Africa.

From the variety of sources which I will identify in due course, it may be become apparent, that the topic can be divided into two distinct groups, one group describes Electronic Monitoring Equipment and the Software Programmes that have been especially designed for these systems to operate and another group which discusses the theoretical implications of establishing such preventative measures within various criminal justice establishments from around the World.

Because of the limited time factor I therefore intend to focus my review only on the literature in my opinion which regards to the key elements of Electronic Tagging, which may include the following, subheadings Detention, Restriction and Surveillance. Therefore the key sources in which I will try to construct my review, comes from the following. The technology behind electronic monitoring, have their roots in the work of the above named author. Dr Ralph Schwitzgebel, Science Committee on Psychological Experimentation, Harvard University (1968).

Dr Schwitzegebel, developed in 1964, a one-kilogram radio telemetry device that could be worn by a person. The device transmitted signals to a modified missile tracking system up to 400 meters away which would then determine the wearer's location. It has also been reported that in the 1980s an American judge supposedly inspired by a Spiderman comic, persuaded a company to develop a monitoring bracelet suitable for offenders to wear, (Rondinelli 1998).

In 1983 the first order was made to require an offender who had breached parole, to ware an ankle bracelet in which to monitor his future behaviour (Liverani, 1998). This use of electronic monitoring devices became known as "tagging". These developments took place at a time when community-based sanctions were becoming more prevalent and of greater significance in reducing rising prison populations (Richardson 1999). Against a background of proportionally high prison populations and rapidly developing technology e.

g. (CCTV), there are now many Governments which includes the British Government' "hence the reports and pilot studies" who have now decided that one possible way of reducing the Prison Population is the effective use of electronic monitoring in an effort whereby costs are reduced, in the day to day running costs of the correctional systems. There has been great interest in the concept of Electronic Monitoring but despite this the actual numbers of offenders being observed is unknown.

This would appear to be contradictory as surely this is the whole point of the concept. To have any impact within the judicial systems, the offender's actual and precise position should be known at any given time. However through my research it has become apparent that one problem is the large amount of agencies who handle offenders given to them by the court systems. As an example there are 218 agencies in America who are capable of monitoring offenders.

When the National Institute of Corrections supported a survey which would evaluate the total population within the nations local, national, federal and state systems only 148 replied. Throughout my research it has become apparent that there is arrange of potential advantages that can be associated with electronic tagging and of course with any advantage there has to be disadvantages. Therefore it is my intention to discuss the advantage's first.

One of the main advantages and this has been highlighted in various journals and that is the possibility of reduced prison populations (Juliet Lyon 2002). This is most likely the case when Monitoring is used as an alternative to Prison, rather than to enhance existing non-custodial sentences. The major costs therefore to be saved would, according to various Government reports is that fewer Prisons would be built, therefore saving Governments the cost of new builds and also the costs of administering custodial sentences (Doolan, R, 2001).

According to some of the information which my research has so covered, there would appear to be other suggested advantages which may indicate sociological and psychological advantages to intended offenders with the first of these being, the possible improved rehabilitation and reintegration quickly to society where in normal circumstances, offenders would be incarcerated for long periods of time, with little or no chance of rehabilitation or reintegration until sentence has expired.

Secondly, the likelihood is, that the concept of Tagging would allow offenders to maintain employment, and more importantly to retain family contact, it also avoids the negative psychological effects of imprisonment although on a negative note the very idea of wearing a monitoring device, would I suppose to some be construed also as a psychological impairment.