Electronic bracelets for wrong sort of prisoners

A criminal has cut his tracking bracelet and done a bolter.

How many times have you heard that in the last month?  I have heard it several times, and it appears that the company responsible for them was dropped by American authorities as their preferred supplier of the tracking tags for the same reasons that the devices are coming under scrutiny for in New Zealand. More interestingly – and worrying – is that the Corrections Department was told about the tags being a problem, but went ahead and purchased some anyway.

A list of the more recent known breaches include:

The Department of Corrections claims that of the 3000+ prisoners who have the tags, the few that have cut them off, amount to less than 0.5%. Whilst this seems like and probably is a quite good record, all of the offenders who cut them off appear to be recidivists who have committed multiple offences that are worthy of jail time. However, there were 15,000 instances between 2008 and the start of August 2015 in which the bracelets were cut or otherwise interfered with by the wearer. Given some of the prisoners who have done this have been convicted of things such as assault, aggravated robbery and illegal possession of weapons, should they have been able to use the tracking devices in the first place?

In the case of Blessie Gottingco’s murderer, the answer is an absolute no. People like Tony Robertson are good for one place only: Jail. That he was out on parole, that Corrections had a GPS tracker placed on him, is all meaningless to the victims family – they lost a mother, a wife, aunty in what by all accounts was a shocking offence.

Perhaps a better use for the tag would be to use them on lower risk offenders who are allowed into the community for rehabilitative purposes, as a way of granting them more autonomy, in return for the understanding that if they cut them off, their liberties will be curtailed.


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