No More Shackles: Why We Must End the Use of Electronic Monitors for People On Parole

Conditions for individuals on parole have grown more stringent with the addition of electronic monitoring.  Electronic monitoring is seen as an alternative form of incarceration, but the deprivation of liberty continues through technological means. In addition, the role of parole officers has shifted from providing support to help individuals reenter their communities successfully to policing behavior–not only limiting their freedom, but hindering their ability to transition to the community successfully. The Center for Media Justice calls for the elimination of electronic monitoring for individuals on parole. This report provides six pillars for ending the use of electronic monitoring for parole. 

You can read the full text here. 

Key Findings:

  • From 1980 to 2015, the number of individuals on parole rose from 220,400 to 826,100.
  • In 1980, 17 percent of people in prison were there for parole violations compared to 33 percent by 1999.
  • States leading in the use of electronic monitoring are Florida, Texas, California, Michigan, and Massachusetts.
  • In 2017, across 42 state prison systems, 61,250 people were in prison for technical violations.
  • Over 20 states define tampering with an electronic monitor or removing the monitor as a crime of escape; Georgia can sentence a person up to 5 years in prison for doing so.
  • A global study on electronic monitoring from 1999 to the present concluded that electronic monitoring of offenders does not significantly reduce re-offending.
  • Electronic monitoring combined with parole does not save any more money than prison or jail.
  • Monetizing the parole structures by implementing user fees adds financial hardships to returning citizens and their families.
  • EM devices add additional difficulties because they can lose satellite signals and often have a battery failure that triggers alarms. 
  • There’s a lack of clear-cut policy for a person on parole with an electronic monitor. 
  • The location-tracking information of people with electronic monitors is stored in a database that many parties have access to and with few regulations of how that data may be used.


  • Eliminate the use of electronic monitoring as a condition of parole.
James Kilgore, Emmett Sanders, and Myaisha Hayes
The Center for Media Justice