Virtual Incarceration is Here!

March 19,2013

Screen Shot 2013-03-19 at 10.02.16 AMIt sounds like something out of an “Arnold” movie. We all knew it was coming. GPS, home detention, long range alcohol detection, all were leading us to the next level of alternatives to custody; “Virtual Incarceration”. Personally, it’s taken a while before I could climb aboard the band wagon, but here I am. There are people that need to be in prison because they are a danger to society and there are those, at the other end of the spectrum of supervision, that can be supervised, monitored , and even treated through digital technology.

Public Radio international, reports that, “A group of panelists at this year’s South by Southwest interactive media conference in Austin, Texas, presented an idea to improve the U.S. prison system with smart phone technology.The consulting firm, Deloitte, and its think-tank, GovLab, led a discussion on alternatives to the brick-and-mortar prisons low-level criminals are sent to. suggested the U.S. keep low-level criminals out of prison, using smart phone technology”. (click on the image on the left for the article and audio of the panel discussion)

One senior consultant for Deloitte, suggested “virtual incarcerations,” where nonviolent, low-level offenders are taken out of prison cells with support and monitoring that keeps both the community and the offender safe.

“When a court determines a low-level criminal is a good candidate for the smart phone program, they would be equipped with an ankle-monitoring device to track them with GPS, and given a locked smartphone with specific apps related to their needs.” For example,  A DUI offender might require Breathalyze, an app that detects eye movements in the camera on your phone”. The app would also allow the offender to meet with his parole officer via FaceTime on his phone.

These are good ideas, many of which are already being used in some jurisdictions. But it would be interesting to see a pilot project that put together all aspects of high tech supervision into what is now called “Virtual Imprisonment”.

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