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Chapter 3: Location Monitoring (Probation and Supervised Release Conditions)

A. Statutory Authority

Under 18 U.S.C. § 3563(b)(6), the court may provide that the defendant “refrain from frequenting specified kinds of places or from associating unnecessarily with specified persons.”

Under 18 U.S.C. § 3563(b)(13), the court may provide that the defendant “reside in a specified place or area, or refrain from residing in a specified place or area.”

Under 18 U.S.C. § 3563(b)(14), the court may provide that the defendant “remain within the jurisdiction of the court, unless granted permission to leave by the court or a probation officer.”

Under 18 U.S.C. § 3563(b)(19), the court may provide that the defendant “remain at his place of residence during non-working hours and, if the court finds it appropriate, that compliance with this condition be monitored by telephonic or electronic signaling devices, except that a condition under this paragraph may be imposed only as an alternative to incarceration.”

Under 18 U.S.C. § 3563(b)(22), the court may provide that the defendant “satisfy such other conditions as the court may impose.”

B. Sample Condition Language

You shall participate in the Location Monitoring Program for a period of __days utilizing ___ technology and shall abide by all program and technology requirements,

__ Location monitoring technology at the discretion of the probation officer
__ Radio Frequency (RF) Monitoring
__ GPS Monitoring 
__ Voice Recognition

This form of location monitoring technology will be used to monitor the following restriction on your movement in the community:

__You are restricted to your residence every day from ________ to _______  or as directed by the pretrial services office or supervising officer. (Curfew).

__You are restricted to your residence, at all times, except for employment; education; religious services; medical, substance abuse, or mental health treatment; attorney visits; court appearances; court-ordered obligations; or other activities as pre-approved by the officer (Home Detention).

__You are restricted to 24-hour-a-day lockdown at your residence, except for medical necessities and court appearances or other activities specifically approved by the court (Home Incarceration).

__You have no residential curfew restrictions; however, must comply with the location or travel restriction as imposed by the court.  Note: this component should be used in conjunction with GPS technology (Stand Alone Monitoring). 

You shall pay ____ (all, part, or none) of the costs of the program as directed by the Court and/or supervising officer.

C. Purpose

  1. This condition serves the statutory sentencing purposes of public protection and rehabilitation. 18 U.S.C. § 3553(a)(2)(C) and (D).
  2. This condition enables the probation officer to satisfy the statutory requirements to keep informed of the conduct and condition of the defendant, and aid the defendant and bring about improvements in his or her conduct and condition. 18 U.S.C. §§ 3603(2)-(3).
  3. The purposes of location monitoring technology include verifying approved defendant locations at home or in the community; providing information about the defendant’s movement in the community; managing or mitigating risks, including detecting behavioral patterns based on travel and location and addressing the risk a defendant may present to a specific person; and enforcing and monitoring other court-ordered conditions of supervision.
  4. This condition allows the probation officer to implement supervision methods demonstrated by social science to be effective at achieving positive outcomes.
    1. Research suggests that correctional interventions that follow the principles of evidence-based practices promote positive change in the defendant and reduce the probability of recidivism. One of the evidence-based practices principles is that officers should address criminogenic needs. Location monitoring technology can assist in ensuring that defendants are complying with other conditions designed to address criminogenic needs (see: Chapter 1, Section III(A)(1)).
    2. Research suggests that exposure to antisocial associates increases the probability of recidivism. Location monitoring technology can assist with ensuring compliance with other conditions designed to reduce the defendants access to antisocial peers and increase associations with prosocial peers (see: Chapter 1, Section III(A)(2)).
    3. Research suggests that the probability of recidivism is reduced when defendants develop and maintain prosocial bonds to work and other prosocial institutions. Location monitoring technology can assist with ensuring compliance with other conditions designed to facilitate the development and maintenance of prosocial bonds (see: Chapter 1, Section III(A)(3)).
    4. Research suggests that for a criminal event to occur there must be an opportunity to commit a crime. Probation officers may work with defendants on supervision, family members, neighbors, other community members, and law enforcement agencies to structure and monitor the defendant’s routine activities and reduce the extent to which defendants come into contact with criminal opportunities. Probation officers may also monitor defendants through contacts with the defendant and his or her social network, verifying employment, restricting travel, and providing positive reinforcement for prosocial routine activities. Location monitoring technology can assist with ensuring that defendants avoid places with crime opportunities (see: Chapter 1, Section III(A)(4)).
  5. Location monitoring technology may allow participants on supervision to continue to support their families and pay their taxes; in addition, it is less costly than incarceration.

D. Method of Implementation

  1. Types of Restrictions
    1. Curfew: Curfew requires the participant to remain at home during set time periods of the day (e.g., between 8:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.).

      A district’s local policy may establish specific criteria as a guide for officers to consider for determining curfew schedules.  The following local policy wording is provided as an example: “No curfew schedule may be given before 0600 or after 2100, unless it is employment/medical related.”

      If curfew scheduling exceeds 16 hours outside of the residence (within a 24-hour period), court permission or supervisory approval should be sought and documented in the chronological record.
    2. Home Detention: Home detention requires the defendant to remain at home at all times, except for pre-approved and scheduled absences for employment, education, religious activities, treatment, attorney visits, court appearances, court-ordered obligations, or other activities as approved by the probation officer.
    3. Home Incarceration: Home incarceration requires 24-hours-a-day lock-down except for medical necessities and court appearances or other activities specifically approved by the court.
    4. Stand-alone monitoring: This refers to when the court orders the use of location monitoring technology without placing the defendant on component (e.g., curfew, home detention, home incarceration). The purpose is to use any type of location monitoring technology for supervision purposes and to monitor and enforce any other condition of supervision (e.g., employment, association, or travel restrictions).
  2. Types of Monitoring Technology.
    1. Voice recognition: These systems can be used to place or receive random telephone calls to and from participants to verify their presence at an approved location, which is typically their residence. A landline telephone is required.
    2. Virtual monitoring using a smartphone mobile application requires participants to provide their whereabouts by using the devices locational services and identity technology (e.g., facial recognition, fingerprint, and/or password).   This technology is not included within the national contract and requires procurement of a non-competitive contract by an individual district. A mobile device with a data plan and locational services feature enabled are required. 
    3. Radio frequency monitoring: While subject to RF supervision, the participant wears a non-removable, waterproof, and shock-resistant transmitting device around the wrist or ankle 24 hours a day. The ankle is the preferred location, and the wrist should be an option only for verified medical reasons (and only if recommended by the vendor). The transmitter sends a constant radio signal to a receiver in the participant’s residence. The receiver communicates with a central monitoring computer through a landline or cellular phone connection whenever the participant enters or leaves the residence. The central monitoring computer is programmed with information regarding the participant’s approved activity, including when the participant is mandated to remain at the residence or is authorized to be away from the residence, such as for employment. The transmitter reports only when a participant enters or leaves the equipment’s range, not where the participant has gone or how far he or she has traveled. The monitoring unit’s range is adjustable and may be configured based on the size of the residence and the specific needs of the case.
    4. Global positioning system (GPS) satellite monitoring: While subject to GPS supervision, the participant wears a non- removable, waterproof, and shock-resistant transmitting device around the ankle 24 hours a day. The device is known as a GPS tracker, which contains a receiver. The participant is required to charge the GPS tracker battery at least daily or as directed. The participant’s location is detected via GPS satellites, cellular towers, and/or Wi-Fi. GPS trackers receive satellite signals; they do not transmit, nor do they require an unobstructed view of the sky. GPS operations depend on an accurate time reference, which is provided by atomic clocks. Each GPS satellite transmits data that indicates its location and current time.

      All GPS satellites synchronize operations so that repeating signals are transmitted at the same instant. The signals move at the speed of light to the GPS receiver. The distance of the GPS satellites can be determined by estimating the amount of time it takes for their signals to reach the receiver. When the receiver estimates the distance to at least four GPS satellites, it can calculate its position in three dimensions.
  3. Considerations When Selecting Type of Technology
    1. When determining the type of technology, probation officers should always consider the purpose for its use, how the technology will mitigate risks and fulfill sentencing objectives, and how the technology with function in the participant’s residence.
    2. The least invasive and most cost-effective type of technology should be recommended based on the nature of the offense, criminal history, and the participant’s risk level. Location monitoring technology can create supervision efficiencies by providing a better allocation of time and therefore avoid under-supervising high-risk participants and avoid over-supervising low-risk participants.
    3. The type of restriction imposed should be considered when selecting the type of location monitoring technology. For example, if a participant is placed on a curfew coupled with an employment and travel restriction and it has been determined that the participant poses a risk to community safety, global positioning systems (GPS) technology should be considered to monitor both the curfew and the employment and travel conditions. If the participant is placed on home incarceration, radio frequency (RF) technology should be considered, as the technology provides a more cost-effective solution to verifying a participant's location in the residence.
  4. Location monitoring technologies have advantages and limitations. For example, while location monitoring technologies may be used to verify a participant's location at a specific location or area during a prescribed time, the information provided by the technology will not necessarily be sufficient to make conclusions regarding compliant and/or noncompliant behavior. The information must be corroborated through other supervision strategies such as community visits and collateral contacts. 
  5. Location monitoring technology should be dynamic in that probation officers should consistently evaluate the need for the technology used and the component ordered, and request approval from the court for any modification to the term of LM, the component, or the technology used (if ordered by the court).
  6. The use of location monitoring technology can be an effective sanction or action when addressing violations of conditions of supervision. However, it should only be recommended to address specific risks associated with a violation. For example, if a participant has violated conditions of supervision by failing to be at the approved employment location at the time of an officer’s visit or other attempts to verify, location monitoring can be recommended as a sanction. In this example, location monitoring is a controlling strategy and provides enhanced participant accountability.
  7. For participants who qualify for low-risk supervision standards under Judicial Conference policy (see Chapter 1, Section II(C)(1)), contacts with the participant and their social network in the community are not required, and GPS technology should not be used. For these participants, probation officers should request that the court modify conditions requiring monitoring by GPS to allow for more appropriate monitoring technology (e.g., radio frequency or voice verification).