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Location Tracking Systems for Community Supervision

NCJ Number
Date Published
19 pages

This technology brief is the second document in a four-part series on technologies to support the monitoring and supervision of individuals on pre-trial release, probation, and parole; it highlights technologies associated with location tracking systems for individuals on community supervision.


This document is part of a four-part series covering technologies that support the monitoring and supervision of people on pre-trial release, probation, and parole (i.e., community supervision). The series goals are to offer foundational insights from use cases, examine the challenges of community supervision, highlight example products, and discuss the future of select technologies and their implications for community supervision. This brief focuses on technologies associated with location tracking systems (LTS) for individuals on community supervision, also known as community corrections or parole. It notes that, for several decades, LTS have been used to monitor the location of people under some forms of community supervision, and multiple factors have driven an increase in interest for LTS as part of community supervision, including the impact of Covid-19 on face-to-face supervision, concerns regarding prison or jail overcrowding, court case backlogs, and bail reform initiatives. This brief provides relevant context and use cases for LTS, followed by an in-depth look at technology and product insights and implementation considerations aimed at supporting decisions by courts and supervision agencies. Key takeaways include: LTS were originally one- or two-piece ankle-worn devices but smartphone-based and wrist-worn devices are emerging as alternatives, all of which have benefits and limitations; social and technological factors are fueling the increased use of location tracking, however many challenges remain for LTS implementation, including agency resource constraints and high officer workloads; the consumer electronics market will likely continue to enable smaller, lighter, and less expensive LTS devices with more features and capabilities; LTS are not a complete solution but a tool to support effective supervision, and it must be incorporated into a larger case management strategy based on agency and case realities.

Date Published: January 1, 2023