Ankle monitors can hold captives in invisible jails of debt, pain and bugged conversations
Tools that began with the promise of releasing Americans are now shackling many who would otherwise have been set free.
Think by Albert Fox Cahn
Nov 6, 2019
Increasingly, American jails are built without bars, razor wire or even guards. Instead, 21st century prisons are built from data. More and more, inmates are confined not by physical buildings but by GPS monitors, radio-frequency trackers and an array of other electronic monitoring. But make no mistake, electronic monitoring can feel every bit the prison as its brick-and-mortar counterpart.
The first time I stepped into a courtroom was because of electronic monitoring, the increasingly common form of surveillance used in lieu of posting bail or being held in jail, or as part of parole. It was in 2012, and I was a third-year Harvard law student representing a client at a courthouse in inner-city Boston. I shakily approached the lectern and delivered my argument, explaining why my client should be released from jail and put on electronic monitoring while he awaited trial. Whether through persuasion or (more likely) pity, it worked.
What this is about
Learning asks us to change – so that the world might be a place for all are free to thrive