The U.S. prison population continues to grow even as budgets remain the same or shrink. The average cost to house a prisoner in the United States is $129 per day to provide security, administration, health care, operations and rehabilitation. Despite this, the recidivism rate is 81% according to a twenty year study done by Correctional Counseling, Inc., a behavioral therapy program based out of Memphis, TN. Many studies show the rate of rearrest at about 65%, but they don’t take into account prisoners who are incarcerated again in another state or who are sentenced in other court branches. GPS tracking can reduce already strained prison budgets and overcrowded facilities as well as increase the chance for prisoners’ success in the real world.
Monitoring Prisoners With GPS
Many states are looking into the possibility of GPS tracking to monitor prisoners rather than keep them behind bars. With this system, which consists of a small black box strapped to the ankle and worn with a larger belt unit, is worn 24/7. The offender can hold down a job, pay taxes, attend therapy or group meetings – in other words, contribute to society instead of costing taxpayers money. Frequently, prison produces harder criminals due to their associations behind bars, rather than motivating them to give up a life of crime. When they are released, they are ill-equipped to handle life on their own and frequently choose to commit more crimes which leads to a revolving door back into prison. With GPS monitoring, law enforcement can know a convict’s whereabouts at all times and restrict them to certain areas such as home and work, and prohibit them from other areas such as schools and daycare centers.
GPS tracking is a viable key to reduce the non-violent criminal prison population while they pay their debt to society. The cost for a GPS unit is a fraction of the actual cost to house a prisoner, and less overcrowding will lead to a safer prison environment. Currently, there are 2.3 million Americans incarcerated, many of them for non-violent crimes with sentences that could be easily served at home. This fresh approach could dramatically cut costs while also improving the success rate for rehabilitation and reduce the recidivism rate.
Written by Greg Bartlett