Prison service to test electronic monitoring devices

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.

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. The bracelets can be programmed to send an alert if the offender violates a release condition prohibiting them from being in certain places. Officials see the tool as a means of overcoming the challenges of monitoring offenders who have been ordered to abide by a curfew, or to avoid schools, parks, bars or known gang areas.

Correctional Service notes on the current project, prepared last November, say it will examine the cost-effectiveness of electronic monitoring, changes in offender behaviour, staff experiences with the devices, and any additional “intended and unintended” consequences.

Prison service spokeswoman Veronique Rioux refused to make anyone available to discuss the pilot.

It was supposed to begin last spring, but no bids from potential equipment vendors met the government’s requirements. A number of provincial correctional systems use electronic monitoring to keep track of suspects out on bail or offenders permitted to be in the community under court-ordered conditions.

Still, the November notes say, a key challenge is managing expectations of partners involved in electronic monitoring, or EM.

“Many of them have very limited experience with EM, and their knowledge is often based on what they’ve seen on TV, in Hollywood movies and from seeing some American celebrities who have worn an EM device,” a prison service official wrote.

“It is important for them to understand that EM is not a silver bullet and as with all technology some limitations do exist.”

Just Posted

People hurt in rollover near Red Deer

Occupants of a vehicle that rolled south of Hwy 11A were airlifted… Continue reading

Eager-beaver cannabis entrepreneurs already waiting outside Red Deer City Hall

Appications will be accepted on a first-come basis starting on Tuesday

Like father like son: Red Deer area Dreeshen family dedicates life to public service

There are three jobs that could be considered the Dreeshen family business:… Continue reading

Restaurant owner concerned about Gasoline Alley road changes

Nearly 20 trucks were lined up on the service road in front… Continue reading

Preliminary hearings set for two men charged in weapons and drugs bust

A Red Deer man and Sylvan Lake man are facing 80 charges

WATCH: Hypnotizing show at Westerner Days

Hynotist and mentalist Joshua Seth performs three times a day at Westerner Days

WWII hero’s lost Purple Heart returned to his family

NEW YORK — A lost Purple Heart medal has been returned to… Continue reading

California girl, 2, accidentally shot and killed by boy, 4

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. — Authorities say a 4-year-old boy accidentally shot and… Continue reading

A hairy issue: Sailors tell the US Navy, ‘We want beards’

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Now that women in the Navy can wear ponytails,… Continue reading

PHOTOS: River Town Saints rock Red Deer

River Town Saints play Westerner Days Friday in Red Deer

PHOTOS: Dogs, horses and more animals at Westerner Days

Westerner Park’s pavilions were filled with animals during Westerner Days

Red Deer residents can’t get enough mini-doughnuts

Mini-doughnuts were the biggest draw to Westerner Days according to a Red… Continue reading

Four-car crash, including RCMP vehicle, on Highway 2

Two sheriff vehicles were also involved in the collision

Divers hunt for 4 after Missouri duck boat sinks, killing 13

BRANSON, Mo. — Divers are searching Friday for four people still missing… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month