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Electronic Monitoring in England and Wales: Evidence-Based or Not?

NCJ Number
Criminal Justice Volume: 5 Issue: 3 Dated: August 2005 Pages: 257-277
George Mair
Date Published
August 2005
21 pages
This article reviews the evaluation studies of electronic monitoring of offenders in England and Wales to determine whether its introduction and development has been "evidence-based."
The article begins with a discussion of what is meant by "evidence-based," a term which pertains to the basing of program design and practice in definitive evidence of its effectiveness in achieving objectives. The author notes, however, that "evidence-based" is an unclear term because of varying definitions of "evidence" and varying interpretations of the link between "evidence" and practice. Although skeptical of the use of the term "evidence-based," the author examines the policy origins and development of electronic monitoring in England and Wales and particularly the research findings that have accompanied that development. Electronic monitoring in England and Wales has been used in conjunction with curfew orders. Research has focused on implementation procedures and effectiveness in reducing curfew violations. A reconviction study examined 261 offenders sentenced to a curfew order with electronic monitoring. The 2-year reconviction rate for this group was 73 percent; and there was no difference between the curfewed group and a comparison group that had been sentenced to community service and combination orders. Based on this "evidence," curfew order apparently had no impact upon reoffending. Given, at best, the ambiguous nature of these and other research findings on electronic-monitoring trials, it would seem inappropriate to expand electronic monitoring in the context of curfew orders without serious consideration of its current design and cost-effectiveness. Electronic monitoring, however, has continued and expanded with little change because it is politically based. 43 references