Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Feds Eye Expanded Use of Electronic Ankle Bracelets for Prisoners, Immigrants

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Feds Eye Expanded Use of Electronic Ankle Bracelets for Prisoners, Immigrants

Article excerpt

Feds to study greater use of e-bracelets


OTTAWA - Canada's prison service plans a new pilot project to test the effectiveness of electronic ankle bracelets on offenders released into the community with conditions.

In addition, the federal border agency will consult the United States and Britain as part of a study looking at expanded use of the tracking devices on immigrants and refugee claimants.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews outlined the initiatives -- despite steadfast opposition from the NDP -- in a written response to a Commons committee that examined electronic bracelets last year.

"The advantages rest with potential cost savings, as well as enhanced monitoring and supervision in the corrections and immigration enforcement contexts," Toews said in the letter tabled in Parliament.

"The challenges are primarily with respect to effective implementation and evaluation."

In its September report, a majority of the Commons public safety committee recommended the federal prison and border agencies look into broader use of electronic monitoring.

However, the NDP disagreed, saying the government's own witnesses made it clear that the devices are not effective for low-risk offenders.

"Electronic monitoring is not cheap, it's expensive," committee member and NDP public safety critic Randall Garrison said Thursday. "You're spending a lot of money on people who are unlikely to reoffend."

In his letter, Toews said a steering committee of representatives from the Correctional Service, Public Safety and the Defence Department's Centre for Security Science would oversee and evaluate the prison service's pilot project slated for this year.

"Electronic monitoring will not be used as an alternative to detention but to enhance compliance with conditions upon release," Toews said.

He added that research has shown electronic tracking bracelets work best when accompanied by correctional programming for offenders.

"The overarching goal of implementing an electronic monitoring program should be to maximize public safety," said the letter. "Supervision tools are used to promote public safety by facilitating the safe reintegration of eligible offenders into the community. …

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