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Electronic Monitoring of Offenders in the Community
Michigan's electronic monitoring system is meant to provide community supervision staff with additional tools to more intensely supervise offenders. The department also provides this monitoring service for some district and probate courts, sheriffs' departments and juvenile offenders. The Radio Frequency monitoring program was successfully piloted in l986 for selected Washtenaw County probationers. By the end of 1987, it was being used on a statewide basis. It allows for the monitoring and enforcement of curfews and other conditions of community supervision. Offenders supervised using electronic monitoring devices are managed more closely than other offenders in the community. The use of electronic monitoring is sometimes used to divert offenders from placement in local county jails as well as act as an additional deterrent to parolees and probationers being managed in the community.
While the Radio Frequency monitoring system does not "track" offenders' whereabouts like a homing device, it is able to determine if offenders are home when they should be. Known in the MDOC as the "Electronic Tether Program," the system allows the department to tell 24 hours a day, seven days a week, whether an offender is living up to the supervision requirements of his or her placement.
A new feature for the Radio Frequency monitoring program is the Digital Cellular monitoring device. This device allows Radio Frequency monitoring of offenders who do not have telephone service. It is a more costly alternative, and therefore intended to act as a short term solution until the offender is able to secure traditional land-based telephone service. The Digital Cellular monitoring device contains cellular telephone technology in an additional piece of equipment which is placed in the offenders' home. The information from the traditional Radio Frequency monitoring device is communicated to the host computer through the technology in the Digital Cellular device. Internal security features alert staff if there is an attempt to move the unit.
In 2004 the monitoring program for alcohol consumption expanded with the introduction of the S.C.R.A.M. (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring) alcohol monitoring device. This technology also uses fuel cell technology, but monitors for alcohol consumption twenty-four (24) hours per day, seven days per week. While the Sobrietor takes a "snapshot" to determine if the offender currently has alcohol on his/her breath, the S.C.R.A.M. device takes readings 24 hours per day. Each sample is tested and the readings are stored in the bracelet. Those readings are transmitted to a host computer through the use of a modem at a pre-determined time. S.C.R.A.M. does not offer the curfew monitoring feature of the Radio Frequency and Sobrietor equipment, but does provide continuous alcohol monitoring.
Global Positioning System (GPS) technology was officially introduced as an electronic monitoring option within the Department of Corrections in January 2007. Its' current primary target population is specific paroled sex offenders. This device records offender movement throughout the community and reports those movements to a host computer. Department of Corrections staff are able to review maps and track the movement of the parolee throughout the day.