GPS Versus Custody: Which Has Better Impact for the Community, Victim, and Offender?

Subject: Law
Type: Analytical Essay
Pages: 8
Word count: 2205
Topics: Justice, Community Service, Innovation, Police


The use of GPS monitoring to track high-risk re-offenders has received a wide acceptance as per research. The system has proven to be an effective criminal justice reform approach. Instead of having so many people behind bars, the correctional officers in the United States and other countries have adopted the GPS systems. It allows for real-time monitoring of the pre-trial detainees.

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The acts of rape, violence, and murder are arguably the worst offenses that an individual can commit against the other. In the last decade, there has been much discussion about violent offenders re-offending once they get out of custody. It is due to such reasons that the community correction officers require the best techniques for supervising violent offenders. Keep in mind that each individual requires a personalized way of supervision. Therefore, the emergence of electronic monitoring mechanisms has enabled the community correction officers to track the activities freed criminals. Notably, electronic devices provide real-time and instantaneous data, especially when it comes to the high-risk offenders released from custody to the community. An active GPS will is the best tool for managing and controlling the activities of high-risk offenders whereas a passive GPS system will be appropriate for monitoring individuals who are less likely to re-offend. 

The use of GPS began in the 1960s. From literature, it is apparent that the sanction has played a great role in reducing the rate of re-offending among the high-risk offenders. It involves the use of GPS-enable gadgets, which helps the law enforcers to track the whereabouts of the offenders. Normally, the tracking happens either intermittently or continuously. The gadgets seek to help the officers of the courts to monitor individuals who have had a history of reoffending. The systems make it easier for them to manage and control the offenders instead of caring. The culture has always been that, when an individual commits a crime, he or she is sentenced to a jail term. Undeniably, keeping an offender under custody reduces the chances of the persons committing the crime. Even so, violent, sex and domestic offenders stand a high chance of re-offending if not monitored closely. The best strategies can help in solving the issue of former convicts committing crimes.

Questions linger in the minds of many regarding the suitability of custody and GPS monitoring in the criminal-justice reforms. Therefore, the study seeks to evaluate the effectiveness of custody versus GPS in managing the high-risk and low-risk offenders. On top of that, the research aims at establishing the method that has a significant impact on the community, the victim, and the offender. Both GPS and holding individuals under the custody of police can be effective approaches. Additionally, both have strengths and weaknesses. It would be prudent to analyze the available literature to establish their significances in reducing the levels of crime. 

Literature Review

Effectiveness of GPS

The courts or correctional facilities can pardon a criminal suspect. Typically, criminal suspects are reintegrated back to the community subject to stern precincts on their freedoms. However, the caseload is so high to the extent that monitoring the suspects impossible for probation, parole, and community officers. The gap in the management of parolees and pretrial detainees amount to serious risks, especially when it comes to the safety of the public. According to Hucklesby et al. (2016.), a significant proportion of parolees are likely to re-offend when released to the society. Majority of these former offenders committing another crime within a span of three years from the date of release is high. The argument shows how much dangerous can lack monitoring and control be if an individual is re-integrated without a follow-up. Individuals with records of violence, murder, or rape are likely to commit a similar offense if there are no proper mechanisms to track their activities. 

Luckily, the world is transforming at warp speed. The development of electronic monitoring technologies has dramatically improved the criminal-justice system. Inventions like, the Global Positioning System (GPS), has shaped the way officials court and community officers can track individuals with a history of crime. The system is common to millions of motorists around the globe and now widely used by government institutions and correctional facilities. a majority of the government bodies, especially institutions in-charge of justice are already using the mechanism to track parolees and pretrial detainees in the United States. In fact, the Canadian and European authorities are using the system aggressively when monitoring individuals with high-likelihood of committing crimes after release (Gies, Gainey, & Healy, 2016). Its use in these countries is a clear indication of how much the system is receiving a wide acceptance. Besides, it shows that the use of GPS has a substantial impact on the society, the victim, and the offender.

The authorities limit the movement of a suspected criminal of ex-convict to a certain environment to reduce the chances of re-offending. In case they cross to the no-go zone, the authorities will be in a position to get real-time updates. With that, they will act quickly to prevent situations where the defendant might take part in a criminal activity. So far, countries like the United States, Canada, and others in Europe have established the effectiveness of the system. it is evident that it helps in reducing the number of pretrial detainees in custody. The authorities do not need to hold individuals eligible for parole under custody. It is the main cause of congestion in many incarceration centers around the United States.

Undeniably, the use of GPS monitoring can be an effective approach for reducing the likelihood of individuals re-offending. Just as in the argument of Rajala (2018), the rapid growth in the use of this mechanism is a show of reform in the criminal justice system. As a result, it has helped to reduce both the levels of incarceration in the United States and insecurity. Studies argue that individuals who are under surveillance are having a lower likelihood to recidivate. Therefore, the chances of ending up in prison are low. A study by Gies, Gainey, & Healy (2016), which placed 5000 low- and high-risk offenders under supervision, established that monitoring could reduce the chances of re-offending by approximately 31%. Even so, little or no supervision gives room for an individual to perpetrate crime once again. As a result, the chances of re-incarceration are high when individuals, especially the ex-convicts receive little attention from the parole and community monitoring and correctional officials. The systems work such that, the officers incharge can demarcate the no-go zones for the suspects under close supervision. The systems will allow the probation and monitoring officers to get real-time information when the probationers leave the designated area. The on-time information can also help the monitoring officials to track the movements of the suspect. When a criminal offense occurs, it will be easier to determine whether the person was near the scene of the crime. The authorities can track and determine the proximity of the suspect to the scene.

Previously, the only way to reduce the rates of incarceration has been bail and bond. On top of that, the other option has been short sentences. In the United States, the congestion in prisons has pushed the criminal-justice systems to issue short sentences. Shorter sentences coupled with bails endanger the lives of members of the public. Pretrial defendants can get out of the jail through bail reform. It amounts to risks considering the chances of individuals re-offending. On that note, other justice reforms have proven unfit for controlling the levels of re-incarceration. Custody cannot solve the problem and rate of re-offenses. Therefore, the best way to reduce the probability of an individual committing the same offense or another is through GPS monitoring. GPS system is a form of criminal-justice reform that can cut the number of re-offenders who end up committing other crimes. Remember, when under close supervision, the chances of engaging in crime are low. As a result, GPS has proven to be a sound solution for reducing custody. Besides, the mechanism increases public safety.

GPS monitoring make it easier for them to identify the locations of both high-risk and low-risk offenders instead of caring. Remember, the culture has always been that, when an individual commits a crime, he or she is sentenced to serve jail term. It is undisputable that holding an offender under custody will reduce the tendencies of the persons to commit take part in criminal. Individuals accused of violence, sex, and domestic offenses stand a high chance of re-offending if not monitored closely (Budd & Mancini, 2017). The use of GPS has helped in reducing incidences of re-offending and re-incarceration pre-trial detainees and parolees. 

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Downsides of GPS Monitoring

Well, GPS monitoring has its strengths and weaknesses. It is emergent that the system has a potential to cut the number of individuals in prisons. Apparently, it does not prevent violent offenders from offending. In other words, the system does not restrain an individual to avoid re-offending. Therefore, realizing a pre-trial detained on bail and fitting them with electronic monitoring systems do not prevent crime. Dangerous criminals, especially the high-risk offenders can commit a heinous act. Keep in mind that a majority of the criminals live in less restrictive environments. Some of the hardcore pre-trial detainees meet members of the public. Such can cause harm before the law enforcers intervene. On top of that, this form of criminal-justice reform can make the public to perceive the process of dealing with violent offenders to be too lenient. In short, most members of public believe that criminals deserve an onerous punishment (Budd & Mancini, 2017).  From that argument, it shows that the GPS monitoring can still expose the public to some dangers from hardcore criminals.

The other issue is the cost of using GPS monitoring to track the activities of crime suspects. From research, it is clear that a signification portion of the parolee has a high tendency to re-offend. Given the costs involved in tracking down the pre-trial detainees, the levels of re-offending might increase the cost. In other words, when the re-offending rate is high, then the number of parolees on GPS monitoring remains high. Remember that the number of criminals under custody. On that note, it will be correct to argue that the use of GPS is not cost-effective. Even so, placing individuals under custody can be costly as well. Releasing convicts eligible for paroles from time to time can be a great impediment toward the success of GPS monitoring. Additionally, when the population under supervision is high, the work of monitoring is high. As a result, it gives the offenders a chance to re-offend. Some might even go unnoticed (Omori & Turner, 2015). Therefore, to some extent, GPS systems are costly and unreliable to show the real actions of an individual. It only tracks the locations or rather movements.

Hucklesby (2016) adds that the issue of cost can make reform ineffective, especially when the cost surpasses the benefits. Therefore, poor implementation of the criminal justice reform can result in failure. Additionally, the system operates only when it has charge. Low batteries can make it hard for the authorities to track the suspects’ locations. It means, the process of managing the defendants is difficult considering the need to keep the batteries of the system full all the time. It can inhibit the process of monitoring their movements from one place to the other.

Conclusions and Recommendations


In conclusion, it is apparent from research that GPS monitoring can better affect the society, victims, and offenders. It takes the correct criminal-justice reform to reduce the levels of incarceration. Undeniably, the huge number of individuals under custody has led to congestion in prisons. That alone necessitated the need for the development of alternative reforms. One of the reforms was the use of bail to reduce congestion in prisons. The other one is the use of short sentences. Even so, individuals convicted of crimes previously are likely to engage in criminal offenses when re-integrated back to the community. To reduce the rate of re-incarceration, it was necessary to use GPS technologies to track the movements of individuals on parole and pardon. Electronic monitoring provides the best solution as it gives real-time data. Correction officers can supervise the movements of the suspects from remote points. Luckily, the system allows the officers to restrict the pre-trial detainees to a particular area. Therefore, the chances of committing another crime become less. Otherwise, releasing them without proper mechanisms to supervise their activities will endanger the lives of the public given the history of most hardcore and high-risk criminals in the society.

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Members of the public might perceive the use of GPS monitoring as a lenient penalty for high-risk criminals. Sometimes, the use of electronic systems can accord a suspect some freedom. When freedom exists, there is a high likelihood that the individual will commit another crime. The best solutions for individuals with high tendencies of re-offending are rehabilitation. Rehabilitation, not necessarily mean that an individual should not be under supervision. However, the chances of re-offending after rehabilitation outside a correctional facility are low. Additionally, the approach can help in reducing the levels of congestions in jail.

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  1. Budd, K. M., & Mancini, C. (2017). Public perceptions of GPS monitoring for convicted sex offenders: opinions on effectiveness of electronic monitoring to reduce sexual recidivism. International journal of offender therapy and comparative criminology, 61(12).
  2. Gies, S., Gainey, R., & Healy, E. (2016). Monitoring high-risk sex offenders with GPS. Criminal justice studies, 29(1).
  3. Hucklesby, A., Beyens, K., Boone, M., Dunkel, F., McIvor, G., & Graham, H. (2016). Creativity and Effectiveness in the use of electronic monitoring: a case study of five jurisdictions.
  4. Omori, M. K., & Turner, S. F. (2015). Assessing the cost of electronically monitoring high-risk sex offenders. Crime & Delinquency, 61(6).
  5. Rajala, Y. (2018). U.S. Patent No. 9,875,638. Washington, DC: U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
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