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Building Prisons Without Walls Using GPS Devices

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the prison-reform-step-by-step dept.

United States 545

Hugh Pickens writes "Graeme Wood writes in the Atlantic that increasingly GPS devices are looking like an appealing alternative to conventional incarceration, as it becomes ever clearer that traditional prison has become more or less synonymous with failed prison. 'By almost any metric, our practice of locking large numbers of people behind bars has proved at best ineffective and at worst a national disgrace,' writes Wood. But new devices such as ExacuTrack suggest a revolutionary possibility: that we might do away with the current, expensive array of guards and cells and fences, in favor of a regimen of close, constant surveillance on the outside and swift, certain punishment for any deviations from an established, legally unobjectionable routine. 'The potential upside is enormous. Not only might such a system save billions of dollars annually, it could theoretically produce far better outcomes, training convicts to become law-abiders rather than more-ruthless lawbreakers,' adds Wood. 'The ultimate result could be lower crime rates, at a reduced cost, and with considerably less inhumanity in the bargain.'"

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Already used in the UK (4, Interesting)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424262)

But the bad news is that it has no basic impact on crime, on re-offending [bbc.co.uk] , with many criminals comitting crimes while tagged.

Re:Already used in the UK (-1, Troll)

HateBreeder (656491) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424308)

It's not the same thing.

You're talking about a something that simply tracks the prisoner, but does not take an enforcement measures.

If a prisoner walks out of his allowed boundary - the police is notified and they should dispatch someone to get the prisoner back...

however, imagine something that would deal an extremely painful, incapacitating electric shock whenever one steps out of his allowed boundary.
That's what "swift, certain punishment for any deviations" is all about.

Of course, that's just wishful thinking. Let the liberal, hippies castrate this until it won't "scar" the delicate souls of the inmates, limiting it to such a stupidity and rendering it completely incompetent - after which they would complain how it failed miserably.

Personally, I would give my vote to something that delivers a lethal injection on confirmed violation.

Re:Already used in the UK (3, Insightful)

martijnd (148684) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424326)

Sounds like a great story for an SF movie, too bad it was done before, back in 1987:

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0093894/

Re:Already used in the UK (1)

HateBreeder (656491) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424356)

Almost the same, except for the whole TV game show bit.

Re:Already used in the UK (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33424596)

I think you actually mean http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0103239/

Re:Already used in the UK (4, Interesting)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424380)

Only as long as convicts aren't forced to sign a waiver stating they won't sue if the device malfunctions and zaps them by accident.

Re:Already used in the UK (-1)

HateBreeder (656491) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424408)

I knew someone's going to say that.

Well, the answer is, that a remote operator will need to authorize the zapping.

And if it still wrongfully zaps someone, then they have the right to sue. Practically speaking, it's going to be less than 1 in a 1000000 that gets zapped wrongly.

Re:Already used in the UK (5, Insightful)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424432)

Somehow I seriously doubt it would be "less than 1 in a 1000000" that got "zapped" wrongfully. Underpaid, bitter and plain nasty remote operators would most likely love the excuse to "zap" a convict. Add to this that there will most likely be some sort of manual "zap" capability as well and you're more likely to see random convicts getting "zapped" simply as a way to amuse the operators...

Re:Already used in the UK (-1, Troll)

HateBreeder (656491) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424470)

The liberal lefties at work, trying to castrate an idea before it has even manifested itself.

You're so sure technology cannot be polished and that everything's going to fail, then why risk driving a car? why risk going on a bus? the under paid bitter driver might smash into a wall for fun.
Or why eat out? the underpaid bitter waiter might poo in your food for entertainment.
Why aren't police officers shooting people for fun?

Why do you think someone cannot create a system which is good enough to not zap wrongfully?

How about requiring an authorization password from the operator - which immediately logs the operator name, time and the location of the prisoner - to guarantee accountability? no. liberal hippies are no better than small minded bigots.

Re:Already used in the UK (2, Insightful)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424530)

You're so sure technology cannot be polished and that everything's going to fail, then why risk driving a car?

I didn't say the tech would fail. Also, I don't drive.

why risk going on a bus? the under paid bitter driver might smash into a wall for fun.

Well, considering that most humans have some basic sense of self-preservation and the newspapers aren't exactly filled with reports of crazed bus drivers driving into walls for shits and giggles, I think I'll be fine.

Or why eat out? the underpaid bitter waiter might poo in your food for entertainment.

I rarely eat at restaurants. However, I do occasionally order pizza but I am friendly with the guys who run the local pizza place and I doubt it would be in their best interest to defecate on the food since they want repeat customers. It is also in their best interests not to do anything that would get the health inspectors to shut them down.

Why aren't police officers shooting people for fun?

Actually, it seems that powertripping police officers beating up, tazing and macing people for no good reason isn't all that uncommon. We recently had an incident around here where a group of police officers decided that a drunk man in his 20s was best dealt with by beating him severely, handcuffing him and finally leaving him to die on the floor of their van...

How about requiring an authorization password from the operator - which immediately logs the operator name, time and the location of the prisoner - to guarantee accountability? no. liberal hippies are no better than small minded bigots.

If you can't see how the system can still possibly be abused often enough that your claim of only 0.0001% wrongful "zappings" seems naive then you should probably consider the possibility that you are either biased or a troll.

Re:Already used in the UK (0)

HateBreeder (656491) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424562)

Not talking about you specifically, but about most people. If you don't drive - maybe we shouldn't have cars?... silly.

My point is, that the abuse is worth it if the system works the absolute majority of the time.

Whenever a way to abuse it is found, then it should be fixed.

The idea is not 'flawed' or 'cannot ever be made to work'.

Re:Already used in the UK (0)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424650)

You answered a lot of rhetorical questions.

Also, you're weird. It sounds to me like you have an issue with authority in general, as you immediately suspect that operators would gladly abuse their power to zap convicted felons. It's not that it's a terrible assumption, just that it isn't necessarily your place to do so. The people who hire those operators are likely going to put new hires through a battery of tests so as to weed out the people you are inherently afraid of. There would also be technological controls to discourage such acts as well. Like the GP said, there are so many facets of life that offer an opportunity for abuse. Somehow, society has managed to survive up until this point.

Listen, every single person out there gets a tight puckered anus when they get pulled over by the cops; it's natural, even if you've done nothing wrong. Nobody agrees that people should be beaten by the cops for no reason. The police kill innocent people much less often than criminals kill innocent people.

Re:Already used in the UK (4, Insightful)

dave420 (699308) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424546)

Stop crying "liberal!" it's making you look seriously retarded. When you were young, did your dad bang on about how communists are trying to take down the US? It's pathetic.

Anyway, the people you are decrying are people who simply spotted a serious and counter-productive way this new suggestion could be misused, and pointed that out. So I guess in your mind "liberal" == "someone who's paying attention".

It must suck to be you. Seriously.

Re:Already used in the UK (-1, Troll)

HateBreeder (656491) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424584)

Ooh.. defensive.

If you'd pay attention, the things they "pointed out" were things that cannot be abused unless the system was designed by complete retards. Also, the assumption that bugs and glitches cannot be fixed and smoothed out is fundamentally incapacitating for any sort of future development.

Liberals is something that once stood for great principals and freedom - but since have been twisted, violated and transformed int the abomination it now is - a suicidal attitude that favors the perpetrator over the victim.

Re:Already used in the UK (2, Interesting)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424520)

The main problem is that when the offender walks off, no one reacts. In theory, police should be dispatched and nab him -- but that never happens. Not even "rarely", it's for all practical purposes "never". This makes the system just a costly joke.

Re:Already used in the UK (5, Interesting)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424532)

Let the liberal, hippies castrate this until it won't "scar" the delicate souls of the inmates, limiting it to such a stupidity and rendering it completely incompetent -

Actually, you are much more likely to run into opposition from the prison-industrial complex, & they ain't liberal, but let's not let facts or common sense get in the way of a good rant.

Re:Already used in the UK (1)

daem0n1x (748565) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424568)

Never seen such a beautiful match between a username and a post.

Re:Already used in the UK (4, Insightful)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424580)

Let the liberal, hippies castrate this

Your arguments would be more persuasive if they didn't immediately resort to inane labeling of anyone who might take issue with them. It's the rhetorical equivalent of sticking your fingers in your ears and saying "I can't hear you because you're a liberal hippie!" Labeling the opposition is a cheap and lazy way to avoid addressing what they have to say.

(For what it's worth, I am not a hippie and most decidedly not a liberal.)

Re:Already used in the UK (-1, Troll)

HateBreeder (656491) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424610)

Agreed. my utter disgust of these people got the better of me.

Re:Already used in the UK (2, Insightful)

Meneth (872868) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424338)

Might have something to do with the facts that:

1. Criminals aren't tagged at the time of release, but sometime later.

2. The tags are handled by private companies, not the government.

It's like there was a competition, "How badly can we screw this up?", and everyone tried their hardest.

Re:Already used in the UK (1)

xaxa (988988) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424526)

That news article is from five years ago, it would be interesting to read something a bit more recent. I can't find anything from a reliable source though.

Re:Already used in the UK (5, Interesting)

value_added (719364) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424378)

Apparently, neither does incarceration. ;-)

In the US, particularly here in California, the prison industry and unions have a disproportionate influence on the workings of the criminal justice system.

The way I see it, the only way a GPS-based system would be implemented as anything but a pilot program would if there were huge amounts of money to be made. If saving money was the issue, we could reduce crime, costs, and prison populations starting tomorrow simply by writing each offenders a monthly check for a portion of their incarceration cost. Last I heard, that would give each evil do-er a comfortable middle class existence.

Re:Already used in the UK (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424466)

Apparently, neither does incarceration. ;-)

Well it does for the period that they are incarcerated.

Re:Already used in the UK (2, Insightful)

Jedi Alec (258881) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424544)

The way I see it, the only way a GPS-based system would be implemented as anything but a pilot program would if there were huge amounts of money to be made. If saving money was the issue, we could reduce crime, costs, and prison populations starting tomorrow simply by writing each offenders a monthly check for a portion of their incarceration cost. Last I heard, that would give each evil do-er a comfortable middle class existence.

Heck, you could go a few steps further and implement proper educational and social welfare programs. Kinda hard to do that and pretend to be "tough on crime" at the same time though.

Only killing works (1, Flamebait)

SmallFurryCreature (593017) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424618)

It is a sad fact that the ONLY rehabilitation that works on criminals is a bullet through the brain. Not a single other system has any noticable effect. The industry beats its chest when it achieves a 1% different on a recidivism rate of 70%+

Imagine if you went to a doctor and 70% of the time the treatment did absolutely nothing but cost a lot of money. How long before you sue? But that is exactly what is going on with both prisons and rehab. It don't make a difference if you lock them up in the worsed pound them in the ass jail or coddle them till even a ragdoll cat gets fed up. Criminals re-offend.

It gets even funnier if you realize that recidivism figures measure ONLY those cons who have been CONVICTED of commiting another crime, and then ONLY if someone happens to notice the connection.

Example, 15yr old rapes. This is NOT marked permanent on his record. If he rapes again at 20, NOBODY links the two. IF of course he is even caught AND convicted the second time. So the bleeding heart who listened to his sob story at 15 beats himself on the chest on how he saved this kid. WRONG!

There fundementally isn't a simple solution. Some criminals belong in the most secure lockup you can image, some people just can't be saved. Others should have been caught and put back on track LONG before BUT that requires lots of money and yes, invasion of privacy. Me looking in YOUR house to see if you kid might be at risk. Don't like it? The alternative is only catching those kids when it is far to late.

There is a solution, but it involves a lot of money and having lots of answers to all the various problems. Prevention, removal of incentive, intervention with gateway crimes (this includes speeding you speed freaks), harsh punishment for those who refuse to change, providing openings for those willing to change.

But that don't fit on a signpost. No slogan can be made out of it. So it won't happen.

Re:Already used in the UK (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424524)

That's old style tags (with no GPS to track where you go during the day), and if you'll read your own article ... it explains most of the fail is by the people who are supposed to administer the tags (but don't do a very good job).

Why stop at "prison"? (5, Insightful)

mbstone (457308) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424264)

In the future, everyone will have to carry a GPS, not just "prisoners," and you won't be allowed in Beverly Hills without an appointment.

Re:Why stop at "prison"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33424454)

"In the future, everyone will have to carry a GPS, not just "prisoners," and you won't be allowed in Beverly Hills without an appointment."

Actually everyone already does have a GPS tracking unit, there's one embedded in your cell phone.

Well... (1)

Red_Chaos1 (95148) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424270)

...I can imagine there is plenty that could go wrong here, but at the same time there is plenty that can go right. I think it would take a good bit of time to really do a list comparison to weigh the full pros and cons of such a move.

Yeah, Right... (1)

greenlead (841089) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424272)

I'm sensing a certain disconnect from reality present in this article. They do realize that ankle monitors are already routinely used, but yet are often useless? And fat chance with getting severe penalties put in place in our modern American society. We didn't even have the testicular fortitude to kill Charles Manson and others!

Re:Yeah, Right... (3, Insightful)

dave420 (699308) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424566)

It takes testicular fortitude to not chicken out and kill murderers. It's far too easy to stoop to their level. Not doing so requires dedication and self-control.

Why not just embed everyone with GPS at birth (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33424276)

That way if they do something wrong it will be easier to prove and the "incarceration" can be switched on remotely. Add an integrated taser and you've got the ultimate means of population control.

Maybe the problem is the laws are fucked up??? Maybe their incarcerating for things that should be a summary offense? Maybe there are too many laws?

The people in 1984 had it easy.

Re:Why not just embed everyone with GPS at birth (1)

Chrisq (894406) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424286)

That way if they do something wrong it will be easier to prove and the "incarceration" can be switched on remotely. Add an integrated taser and you've got the ultimate means of population control.

Save this comment .... I have a feeling that sometime not to far in the future it could be "prior art".

Re:Why not just embed everyone with GPS at birth (1)

Adm.Wiggin (759767) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424500)

Can just imagine the policeman now, coming up against some criminal that somehow evaded the procedure at birth, dumbfounded that his "taser" doesn't do jack shit. I think this would just lead to even less informed officers as the general rule. Not saying they wouldn't try something like this, quite the contrary, but it reminds me how absurd humans really are.

Too easy (0)

VincenzoRomano (881055) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424278)

Instead of making holes in the walls you just need holes in the tracking systems. Which could be much easier.

Well... (0)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424282)

What about using prison labour to provide cheap goods and services? If we're going to have criminals live on the outside with an attached GPS, they're going to be earning minimum wage wherever they work. They won't be earning pennies an hour slaving away providing us with cheap goods.

Any thoughts? (I'm against slave labour by the way.)

Re:Well... (1)

cappp (1822388) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424438)

They already do this. Check out the NPR story [npr.org] which notes that

Several years ago, the federal prison system started offering customer-service calling centers.

and also points to "new recycling centers, printing facilities and industrial laundry rooms." The Nation [thenation.com] seems to think BP is paying prisoners to clean up oil damage, and theres always number-plate production. You should note that

in the 1930s, Congress began allowing the bureau of prisons to put prisoners to work making products — part of an effort to rehabilitate them. But there was a catch. Because its labor costs are so cheap — prisoners make less than a dollar an hour — Federal Prison Industries was not allowed to sell products to anyone but government agencies and non-profits.

If you're interested in the topic both Forbes [forbes.com] and USAToday [usatoday.com] ran some pretty good stories on the rise of prison call centers a couple of months back.

What can possibly be certain punishment? (1)

NicenessHimself (619194) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424290)

you have to wear two bracelets? This isn't doing away with prisons, its just keeping them for the worse criminals or repeat offenders. So its not about doing away with prisons completely, surely?

Prisons are fail. GPS is fail, too (1)

PseudonymousBraveguy (1857734) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424292)

While the prison system is definately a failure, GPS devices can also not reach all goals the prisons were intended to serve. Of the tree common goals of punishment (deterrence, protection of citizens, re-education), the current prison system fails (hard) at re-education. GPS will fail at protection (and probably at deterrance).

Re:Prisons are fail. GPS is fail, too (1)

PatrickThomson (712694) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424332)

So? There are a shit-ton of prisoners who are absolutely no danger to others when they go in, but may get de-habilitated by the prison experience.

Re:Prisons are fail. GPS is fail, too (2, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424406)

Violent offenders would still be locked up.

(Obviously, I thought... why do geeks have to be so "all or nothing"?)

Re:Prisons are fail. GPS is fail, too (1)

rts008 (812749) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424514)

(Obviously, I thought... why do geeks have to be so "all or nothing"?)

'Cause it's binary.
Well, sometimes it's hexadecimal, but in this case binary...definitely binary.

Re:Prisons are fail. GPS is fail, too (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33424672)

So your saying Scott Peterson will not be allowed to go fishing again! The Injustice of it all!!!

Track all prisoners - and their friends & fami (2, Interesting)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424294)

In order for this to work properly, the surveillance must keep an eye on the prisoners. But humans are group animals - prisoners outside a prison will have contact with innocent citizens. So, logically, surveillance will be forced to keep an eye on everybody.

Checking whether they show up at work at the right time, and leave at the right time can be automated.
But how to check what a "prisoner" does in its free time? How to make sure they don't engage in other illegal activities? You must keep an eye on the surroundings, and all the people who are in contact with the convict.

I conclude that this plan has the potential to be the biggest privacy failure in history.
The prisoners win, the system wins, but the innocent bystanders who never do something wrong will have to fear that the nation-wide surveillance will be massively extended. (But hey, they got nothing to hide, right?)

But everybody will break the law at some point... and with such a huge surveillance, soon the government will own everybody. Ok, ok, I might exaggerate a bit... but this is no development to applaud for.

Re:Track all prisoners - and their friends & f (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33424468)

In Sweden non violent criminals can sometimes get a part of their punishment (or all of it in some cases) converted to GPS tracking. While you are on GPS tracking you are only allowed to travel to and from work and to pre-approved stops (like grocery store) and you must stay in your home at all other times. The police/parole officer also have legal access to your home at any time of their choice. If you break the rules of this limited parole you get sent back to prison. And it is always voluntary. It can also be combined with things like mandatory AA-meetings and Alco-locks for their cars.

Re:Track all prisoners - and their friends & f (1)

jonwil (467024) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424602)

You set a curfew. Either they are at work (at the times they are supposed to be working) or they are at home (at the other times). If they are not at home, the GPS system will detect that and alert the cops that they have broken the curfew (and may be committing a crime).

Although you are right that its hard to monitor what the prisoner does when they are at home (and who they have contact with). Which is why they can use the GPS monitoring solution for crimes where the offender cant re-offend without leaving the house. If you limit their access to telephones and the internet, the list of crimes they can commit from inside their house gets even smaller. People who are either A.A risk to the community (e.g. violent offenders) or B.Likely to commit more crimes from inside their house whilst on detention would get locked up in a proper jail.

Of course there are a whole pile of crimes that shouldn't require incarceration at all.

Suddenly... (1)

euyis (1521257) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424296)

An image came to my mind: everyone is GPS-tracked and implanted with a remote electrocution kit and the batteries.
Also, iirc the effective precision of GPS is sometimes limited? What happens when someone's not trying to flee but the system think he is?

Clearly, the author (1)

some old guy (674482) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424306)

has never been mugged, burgled, or had a loved one raped or murdered. GPS won't stop Homie da Gangsta from jacking up my car or gang-raping your sister, but barbed wire and bars will. There is no cure for the near-100% recidivism of violent felons except death or life imprisonment.

Re:Clearly, the author (1)

cduffy (652) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424474)

There is no cure for the near-100% recidivism of violent felons except death or life imprisonment.

It's not the violent felons who make up the bulk of the prison population. Making non-violent felons into violent ones, on the other hand, is a substantial problem with our current "justice" system.

Re:Clearly, the author (1)

cappp (1822388) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424608)

That's not quite supported by the figures. Although recidivism rates are high when considered overall, the Justice Department figures [usdoj.gov] for 1994 (I couldn't get the more recent pdf's to open)show that

Released prisoners with the lowest rearrest rates were those in prison for homicide (40.7%), rape (46.0%), other sexual assault (41.4%), and driving under the influence (51.5%).

Within 3 years, 2.5% of released rapists were arrested for another rape, and 1.2% of those who had served time for homicide were arrested for homicide.

The report specifically notes that although violent prisoners reoffend, the vast majority are not being arrested for another violent offence.

100% -- is that so? (3, Insightful)

koiransuklaa (1502579) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424646)

You sound very confident, do you have a source for that "near-100%" statistic?

I'm asking because in my opinion this "sex offenders / serious violent offenders always do it again" myth has been debunked quite thoroughly. Rape and homicide especially are not repeated very often -- recidivism percentages are in the 1-10% bracket for the typical 3-5 year data period. Harris&Hanson calculated that in 15 years 3 out of 4 sex offenders have not been rearrested -- this is a very good figure compared to just about any other form of crime. See "Predicting Relapse" by Hanson and Bussiere (collects data from 61 international studies), or the half a dozen DoJ studies on recidivism for starters. There are some sub-types of sexual offences that seem to be more prone to repeating (and I wouldn't be surprised if the same was true for homicide) but that wasn't your point, was it?

Another widely popular myth is visible in your "Homie da Gangsta gang-rape" idea. Most sexual assaults (80-90%) are committed by someone known to the victim (you can find this in DoJ statistics as well, can't remember the exact ref).

Didn't work for the Running Man! (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424310)

But it was cool watching their heads blow up. That is what we're talking about, right?

Or we could save 25% off the bat (5, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424324)

Roughly 25% [commondreams.org] of people in prison are there for non-violent drug offenses.

We could implement this GPS plan and fund a nice chunk of corporate socialism for the industry around it.

Or we could get the stick out of our ass, end the war on drugs and start making our deeds better match our words about being the most free country on the planet and in the process shave 25% of the taxpayers' prison bill - maybe even more considering how much violent crime is derivative of the drug trade.

Re:Or we could save 25% off the bat (3, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424352)

While I'm at it, I'd like to point out that more people die of drug overdoses from legal prescription drugs [hhs.gov] than do from illegal drugs like cocaine, heroin, meth (~8700 vs 10K-13K in 2005 a steadily increasing trend for the decade beforehand while the rate of illegal ODs stayed roughly flat).

If the war on drugs is about stopping people from hurting themselves and the people who depend on them, then what fuck are we doing?

Re:Or we could save 25% off the bat (2, Insightful)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424368)

The statistics are skewed. The amount of people who take illegal drugs is not equal to the amount of people who take legal drugs - therefore there's no link.

Similarly, the amount of people who die every year driving cars is less than the amount of people who die every year from jumping off the leaning tower of pisa with bombs strapped to them while wearing large pink hats. Therefore jumping off towers with bombs wearing pink hats is safer. QED.

Re:Or we could save 25% off the bat (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424374)

Is more than*

Sorry

Re:Or we could save 25% off the bat (1)

mikael_j (106439) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424458)

I think you need to factor in that those taking illegal drugs are taking drugs that have been tampered with by every lowlife imaginable, bathtub meth, heroin that can be really high-grade or practically worthless and so on. Those taking prescription drugs are taking professionally manufactured and tested drugs in doses recommended by their physicians who most likely have a lot of education and experience when it comes to prescribing drugs.

Now, I'm not saying everyone should run out and do heroin or meth, just that this also skews the statistics. If the drugs most legal drug users were using were of the same poor quality as those used by addicts the number of deaths from legal drugs would skyrocket...

Re:Or we could save 25% off the bat (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424586)

1. Not all illegal drugs have been tampered with. Some are pharmaceutical-grade. And weed? Why would anyone screw with weed, at least without telling the buyer if it's dosed.
2. You are guessing that these folks are taking the recommended doses of their prescription drugs. They probably aren't if they're overdosing.

I'm not saying you're wrong, simply that adding in some more guesses and conjecture in order to balance out other guesses and conjecture is very rarely going to result in fact ;)

Re:Or we could save 25% off the bat (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424642)

2. You are guessing that these folks are taking the recommended doses of their prescription drugs. They probably aren't if they're overdosing.

More common than overdose of prescription drugs is simple misprescription, or drug interaction. Sometimes people don't tell their doctor everything they're taking; sometimes their doctor fails to remember the PDR accurately and prescribes something which interacts with something they do know they're taking. Further, while dosage is meant to be customized per-patient, many doctors who are prescribing the drug of the week for kickbacks don't care enough to do this properly, so overdose on a prescribed dose is also not unheard of.

The walls are not the problem (1)

halfaperson (1885704) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424330)

But rather the notion that putting people in prison for "crimes" such as smoking pot is a good idea. A national disgrace indeed.

I don't think it'll work (1)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424344)

Prison is both a deterrant and a way of stopping people from activly doing bad things.

But if I'm dealing drugs (for example), tracking me won't make much of a difference, I'll still be able to do my thing.

Similarly, nothing's there to stop me stealing from shops or whatever.

Also where's the punishment in this?

Re:I don't think it'll work (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424582)

Maybe that's why they won't put *everybody* on this system. The article says: "we should be sending to prison the people we are afraid of, or who won’t stop stealing.”

Also where's the punishment in this?

What would be punishment for you? No Internet? Most criminals wouldn't see that as punishment at all. Being banned from their favorite haunts and having all their movements tracked to the nearest meter 24/7, OTOH...

Also, for most first time offenders prison is too much punishment (eg. 20% will be raped, many will catch AIDS, etc.).

Re:I don't think it'll work (1)

FourthAge (1377519) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424670)

Also, for most first time offenders prison is too much punishment (eg. 20% will be raped, many will catch AIDS, etc.).

Another perspective is that there isn't enough punishment in prison. It's supposed to be this incredibly secure place where nobody has any freedom, and yet people are forming gangs, dealing drugs, raping each other...?

WTF. How in hell is this considered acceptable? Why can't the prison authorities put an absolute stop to all the lawlessness within their prisons?

But I think we all know why. It's because, to some, merely putting someone in prison is punishment enough. Actually taking away their freedom - well, that would just be a step too far, wouldn't it? Better make sure they are free to torment the other prisoners instead.

If prison isn't working, then maybe that's because it's allowing too much freedom, and instead of using that freedom constructively, *shock* many of the criminals use it for crime.

Mod -1, Thoughtcrime.

Re:I don't think it'll work (4, Informative)

dave420 (699308) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424606)

The main thing is that prison is the absolute best way western societies have to turn Mr. "Sold a little bit of weed to his friends" into Mr. "Stabbed some dudes in the neck in a bar" or Mr. "Habitual burglar". Prisons have an unwavering ability to turn non-violent offenders into more violent ones, which are then released into society. You asking "where's the punishment" would make sense if prison worked perfectly from society's point of view. It doesn't. The first question that should be asked is how we can make prison into the deterrent it should be, while at the same time ensuring that society doesn't lose a great chunk of its money-making public into violent offenders.

The punishment is that your schedule is controlled 100% by the prison. Yes, you could steal from shops or sell drugs, but as you can be placed at the scene rather easily, and would be sent back to prison for any infraction, I doubt anyone would do it. The same goes for selling drugs.

A cell with one cellmate is... (5, Insightful)

Rene S. Hollan (1943) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424350)

... often far safer than "open time" in the quad, and yes, I write from experience.

These devices won't protect against Canadians (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33424358)

From the article (for those who cannot read):

... convicts who might once have been in prison now walk among us unrecognized--like pod people, or Canadians.

Though that could be changed if we required Canadians to identify themselves by having promiscuously placed tattoos. Otherwise one could come across a Canadian without ever realizing it. Many look and sound like normal people.

Re:These devices won't protect against Canadians (2, Funny)

jamesh (87723) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424484)

Otherwise one could come across a Canadian without ever realizing it. Many look and sound like normal people.

Are you sure you've really met someone from Canada before?

If the punishment is having to follow rules... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33424382)

...aren't the law-abiding citizens going to feel cheated? We already have corporations acting unhindered by the law because their fines are a small fraction of their illegal gains and we can't put corporations behind bars. Do we really want to extend that to people? Are the cops going to be on site quickly enough to stop a violent criminal from claiming another victim when he deviates from an "established, legally unobjectionable routine"? The possibility of hacking the bracelet or faking the GPS signal aren't even my primary concerns. This is a bad idea even if the system works perfectly.

Its too cheap (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33424386)

Everyone breaks some laws in modern life. It can be as simple as speeding to not filling a form out correctly.

This makes "jail" cheap enough for everyone. Also I suspect over time it would evolve into something like what released sex offenders have to deal with. At least prisoners get food and medical care.

Just put a collar on some one, tell them they are not allowed to go anywhere over 5 miles away. And not to a list of prohibited places and let them go... Who will hire them?

How will they eat. What about places where GPS does not work...

Soon everyone who does not have money for a lawyer would have a tracker attached.

Coverage? (1)

commlinx (1068272) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424390)

While GPS technology has come a long way and the low SNR performance of newer GPS modules is amazing operation indoors remains patchy at best. My single level weatherboard house is not so bad normally, but even there I get some inability to acquire indoors depending on satellite geometry at the time. I think with long-term monitoring they'd have to be some threshold where they simply treated no acquisition of a signal as a normal event. I guess they could install re-radiating antennas inside a prisoner's home but in some locations they would have to treat loss of position as a normal event. For anyone slightly tech-savvy at that point they could shield the antenna and have a certain amount of time to go elsewhere.

While far from trivial there is also the possibility of using a GPS pseudolite to give a false location. Last time I looked GPS signal simulators for use in developing and testing new GPS systems cost in the order of $50K but that was quite a few years ago. Minus the considerable development effort I don't see while something like an FPGA / microcontroller combo linked to a low-power transmitter couldn't do the same for a few hundred in hardware costs.

Re:Coverage? (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424636)

Maybe they could, I dunno, put a small radio transmitter in their own house so the unit always knows when you're home even if you live in an underground bunker.

Why does a system have to be completely infallible before it's useful?

Wait, wait (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33424396)

I have an even better, cheaper and quicker method. It involves a wall, a big crate of ammo, and an M2 ("500 solutions to crime a minute").

(Posted AC because I am appalled (and chuffed) by how flagrantly non-PC this post is by modern standards.)

Re:Wait, wait (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424630)

It's not non-PC, it's just retarded. You sound like a bitter, nasty cunt. Congratulations. I hope none of your family ever commits a small crime, as it seems you'd think it would be your moral duty to snap their neck. Awkward.

having done time myself....... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33424402)

Having done 5 years federal time myself, I know something about this. I was busted in 1992, did 5 years, got out and havn't been in trouble since, except for too many speeding tickets. I think I'm the exception. Most go back. They call it life on the installment plan. The thing is, once you get used to being inside you loose skills needed to function in society, and the problem just becomes worse. I don't know what the number is now, but when I was inside, there were over 1 million people behind bars. That's not "on parole", that's the number behind bars. That's one out of every 300 people in the united states. I don't know what the cost is now, but when I was inside, it cost 30,000 per year to keep someone locked up. I think that for sex offenders and violent people like rapists, killers, and child molesters, the prison is the best solution. If you would only lock up THESE people, instead of non violent drug offenders, you would reduce the prison population tremendously. I bet if you look at the cost of the drug war and the cost of keeping these people locked up, including the lost taxes because they are not productive members of society, the cost would be far more than we've spent on the war in Iraq. There may even be enough money there to turn the economy around :)

Re:having done time myself....... (3, Informative)

cappp (1822388) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424510)

Just so we have some numbers to discuss - the summary cites 50k per prisoner per year and I found [bakersfield.com]

California leads the nation in GPS monitored parolees -- 6,500 -- at a cost of $60 million a year. Depending on arrests, there are typically about 250 sex offender parolees on GPS in Kern County

The quick math shows that's almost 10k per prisoner per year in California. Consider that California seems to be an extreme outlier, I only cited their numbers because of their large prison population, with the Justice Department's most recent (2001 sadly) data [usdoj.gov] showing

the average annual operating cost per state inmate in 2001 was $22,650, or $62.05 per day; among facilities operated by the Federal Bureau of Prisons, it was $22,632 per inmate, or $62.01 per day.

A few articles point to the hidden costs of GPS - the significant increase in workload for local police forces being primarily responsible - the lack of actual real-time monitoring, the fact that serious crimes have been committed whilst the offender was being tracked using GPS, and the legal and ethic questions raised.

So have at it oh learned ones.

Re:having done time myself....... (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424626)

Mod the parent up

Single point of failure (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424414)

What you must do is connect the device with an other prisoner, but in such a way that they do not know who the oter one is and if they are too far from each other, the device will explode [imdb.com]

Neat punishment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33424436)

Prisons have two main purposes: Protecting the public by keeping dangerous people locked up, and punishment by restricting the prisoner's freedom and privacy.

Using freedom restriction och privacy with GPS tracking and other technical measures seems like a good punishment to me. It is cheap, there can be several degrees to the punishment, you don't expose people to other criminals and it's possible for criminals to keep their job.

For example (swedish examples):
Crime: Assault
Old punishment: 3 months in prison, pay damages.
New punishment: Pay damages. No travel abroad or drinking alcohol for 2 years. Must check in with police station 3 times/week for 1 year, every day the first 2 months. Must carry GPS transmitter, and GPS position will be given to the victim of the crime. Must be home or in hotel between 00:00 - 05:00 for 1 year. Failure to comply will extend time, and strong disobidience will result in prison lock-up.

When surveillance and privacy restriction is a punishment, it will be made clear that it is a punishment and nothing that should be imposed on citizens in general.

We need fewer crimes, not easier ways to punish (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33424440)

Tracking ever larger numbers of citizens is not the solution.

The solution is to drastically reduce the number of "crimes" for which people are jailed. The Economist has a really good recent article on this: "Rough justice in America
Too many laws, too many prisoners": http://www.economist.com/node/16636027?story_id=16636027

Prison without walls? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33424448)

Sounds like an iPhone...

This seems doubtful (1)

jgreco (1542031) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424460)

There have been numerous reports of how our GPS-tracked parolees have violated parole and their overburdened parole officers have simply not been able to pursue the matter. While I'm not necessarily a fan of prisons and throwing people in one for every little infraction, it seems like replacing one failed strategy with another that we can reasonably predict will also fail is just foolish.

Perhaps we need to figure out a way to make the GPS solution work before we start to use it.

Or perhaps we need to figure out whether or not prison is the appropriate punishment for all these crimes?

Re:This seems doubtful (1)

dave420 (699308) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424654)

How about freeing up those parole officers to concentrate on this system? Families won't be torn apart (reducing the likelihood of the children of offenders from themselves turning to crime), society won't have to pay to house these folks, and these folks will be paying taxes through working and spending money in shops. If we keep the millstone of the current approach to justice around our neck, any workable plan will fail. The first step to fixing the situation is to sort out the number of folks in prison for stupid things. That would save so much money, free up so much of the associated institutions (courts, prisons, public defenders, etc.) that they can focus their work on those who actually should be passing through their part of the machine.

Yeah baby (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33424462)

Go ahead, this won't deter me from crimes like ripping MP3s....

Also, this just in. [google.com]

fuc4F? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33424472)

consis7ent with the

The No (1)

ShakaUVM (157947) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424478)

The City of Fresno built a park downtown, and installed power outlets for people to plug their laptops into, etc.

Turns out these shady-looking guys started meeting there every day. Some people started noticing, and then noticed they had their ankle bracelets plugged into the outlets. Who were they? A bunch of child molesters.

The city turned off the outlets soon after that.

But where did these guys go, then? They needed to charge their anklets, after all.

The very helpful Fresno PD threw a long extension cable out of a third-story window. So they now hang out next to the police building, plugging in. Looks pretty ghetto, but at least the po-po can keep an eye on them.

Failed Prisons? (3, Insightful)

Spacelord (27899) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424480)

TFA claims that prisons have failed. I don't entirely agree. The way I see it, prisons have three roles: one is reeducation, when we release someone from prison, they should come out as better citizens, not better criminals. In that respect, you could say that prisons have failed.

The second role of prisons however is punishment: prison SHOULD be an unpleasant experience for someone who has committed a crime. It should be a deterrent, something they will never want to experience again. Also, if you're a victim of a crime, you want to know that the criminal actually gets punished and doesn't get off with just a slap on the wrist.

Finally, the third role of prisons is protecting society, taking dangerous individuals out of the loop for a considerable amount of time so that they can't do any harm.

It seems to me that while GPS tracking devices may help somewhat with role 1, they don't do anything for role 2 and 3. So in my opinion, they shouldn't be a replacement for a prison system, but an addition to it, for instance in combination with the parole system.

Re:Failed Prisons? (2, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424664)

prison SHOULD be an unpleasant experience for someone who has committed a crime.

Thing is, most of the really nasty people don't have too bad of a time in prison. The people who really suffer are the minor offenders who end up as Bubba's bitch (and Bubba quite enjoys breaking in his bitches, making them suffer helps him relieve the boredom and he gets free sex whenever he wants it).

Re:Failed Prisons? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33424680)

"the third role of prisons is protecting society"

I fail to see how this works. What prisons are doing is raising the criminal level of most people you incarcerate to that of the more violent ones. So you turn lesser offenders into people who start to hate society because they will never get back into it as regular citizens; plus they learned a thing or two while in prison.

Prison has to be punishment but if it's too severe, people will come out of it broken and without perspective, i.e. more dangerous than before.

That and the industrialisation of prisons, which requires as many people as possible to be incarcerated, isn't exactly good for society.

Games without frontiers (3, Interesting)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424482)

Why go to all that effort of targeting criminals? You could do like what the UK has done, install CCTV EVERYWHERE and make the entire country a virtual prison.

Speaking from my experience, it feels nice to get out of the UK on holiday. However, due to the number of cameras and them being everywhere everywhere, the UK really does feel like one large open prison when you return. So much for being a free country.

Intestinate! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33424488)

Crime does not pay.

It's a social not a technological problem. (3, Insightful)

Alcoholist (160427) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424498)

Here's a notion. Why not try to figure out what is wrong with your society that causes so much crime and then deal with it. Then you won't have to put so many people in prison. The U.S. is the land of the free, yet it has the highest incarceration rate on the planet. Surely someone must be asking, "Hey, why is that?"

Great plan (1)

Eggbloke (1698408) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424540)

Until they go under some trees or inside a building.

If you make fun of tinfoil hat wearers (1)

Ukab the Great (87152) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424548)

Be aware that there's now a 50% chance they could be a convict thwarting GPS instead of a nutcase thwarting the government.

Great news. Now criminals wont have to go to jail! (1)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424574)

Rolls eyes.

This wont work. Its silly... and sounds more like a company hoping for a nationwide government contract, or atleast a state contract from someone dumb enough to try it.

It's such a good idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33424576)

What could possibly go wrong?

"swift, certain punishment" (1)

ebonum (830686) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424622)

In other words, an embedded C-4 change :)

Incipient Tyranny (0, Troll)

mbone (558574) | more than 3 years ago | (#33424638)

This is incipient tyranny, no more, no less. Just wait - if this isn't stopped, in five years these devices will be used routinely in High Schools (probably as a condition for participation in Athletics and other after School activities), and in ten years as a condition for employment in certain kinds of jobs.

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