Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Prison Service to Test Electronic Monitoring Devices on High-Risk Inmates

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Prison Service to Test Electronic Monitoring Devices on High-Risk Inmates

Article excerpt

Prison service to test monitoring devices

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OTTAWA - High-risk offenders in Ontario and Quebec are among the inmates slated to take part in a federal prison service pilot project to test the effectiveness of electronic monitoring devices.

Research data will be collected for at least two years before a decision is taken on further use of the devices, to be worn by offenders completing sentences in the community.

The Canadian Press obtained internal memos about the planned pilot project -- which is months behind schedule -- under the Access to Information Act.

The government announced plans for the pilot early last year despite opposition from the NDP, which questioned the cost.

In a September 2012 report, a majority of the Commons public safety committee recommended that the Correctional Service look into broader use of monitoring, which usually involves an ankle bracelet that can be electronically tracked from a central facility.

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

Only medium- or high-risk male offenders out on statutory release -- the final one-third of their sentence -- or subject to a long-term supervision order will be eligible to take part in the pilot, says a September 2013 Correctional Service memo to regional deputy commissioners.

The Ontario and Quebec regions were selected because they have the largest number of high-risk offenders with special conditions imposed on their release, adds the memo.

Offenders who agree to participate in the research will be randomly assigned to one of two groups: those fitted with a device, or those without one.

The prison service tested monitoring devices from 2008-11, but did not gauge their "effectiveness and efficiency," the memo says.

Legislation passed by the Conservatives gives the prison service authority to demand that an offender who leaves prison on temporary absence, work release, parole, statutory release or long-term supervision wear a monitoring device. …

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