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Brief History of House Arrest and Electronic Monitoring

NCJ Number
Northern Kentucky Law Review Volume: 13 Issue: 3 Dated: (1987) Pages: 343-374
J R Lilly; R A Ball
Date Published
32 pages
House arrest represents the fourth phase in the evolution of punitive sanctions, following upon historical emphases on penance, corporal punishment, and incarceration.
To some extent, it also represents a reaction against incarceration and its associated problems of cost, inmate idleness, and overcrowding. Although house arrest dates back to at least the time of St. Paul the Apostle, its widespread use, first with juvenile and then with adult offenders, dates to the 1970's. The surge of interest in house arrest has been closely associated with advances in electronic surveillance and monitoring technologies. The Federal Government and several States have implemented home arrest programs that include supervision, electronic monitoring, and, in many cases, work and community service. Two developments, however, raise concerns about the future of the house arrest movement. Under the Reagan administration, the political climate regarding victimless crimes, such as consensual sexual activity and drug use, has become more intrusive and conservative. In addition, the proliferation of electronic technologies raises the specter of an Orwellian future. These developments increasingly raise concerns over increasing Government control and invasion of privacy. As a policy, home arrest is yet insufficiently developed to allow conclusions as to whether it represents a continuation of correctional policy into more progressive and civilized practices or a pattern of good ideas going wrong and leading to unforeseen and undesirable consequences. 109 footnotes.