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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 will be monitored by the form of location monitoring technology indicated below for a period of __ months, and you must follow the rules and regulations of the location monitoring program. [[You must pay the costs of the program.] [You must pay [$___ per ___ (e.g., week, month)] or [___ % of the costs of the program.]]

__ Location monitoring technology at the discretion of the probation officer
__ Radio Frequency (RF) Monitoring
__ GPS Monitoring (including hybrid GPS)
__ 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 _______ (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 your residence at all times except for medical necessities and court appearances or other activities specifically approved by the court (Home Incarceration).

__You must comply with the following condition: ________________.

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 defendants 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 defendant to remain at home during set time periods of the day (e.g., between 8:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.).
    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 curfew, home detention, or 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 defendants to verify their presence at an approved location, which is typically their home.
    2. Radio frequency monitoring: This technology includes monitoring equipment and 24-hour electronic surveillance designed to alert a probation officer when a participant leaves a specific location (usually the home), returns home late (or leaves early) from a pre-approved schedule, or tampers with the electronic monitoring equipment. While subject to electronic monitoring, the participant wears a non-removable transmitting device around the wrist or ankle 24 hours a day. This technology only reports when a participant enters or leaves the equipment’s range — not where the participant has gone or how far the participant has traveled.
    3. Global positioning system (GPS) satellite monitoring: While subject to GPS monitoring, the defendant’s location is detected by GPS satellites that transmit signals to location monitoring equipment on the ground. Each GPS satellite transmits data that indicates its location and current time.
  3. Considerations When Selecting Type of Technology
    1. When determining the type of technology, probation officers should always consider the purpose for its use and how the technology will mitigate risks and fulfill sentencing objectives.
    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 defendant’s risk level. Location monitoring technology can create supervision efficiencies by providing a better allocation of time and therefore avoid under-supervising high-risk defendants and avoid over-supervising low-risk defendants.
    3. The type of restriction imposed should be considered when selecting the type of location monitoring technology. For example, if a defendant is placed on a curfew coupled with an employment and travel restriction and it has been determined that he or she 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 defendant is placed on home incarceration, radio frequency (RF) technology should be considered, as the technology provides a more cost-effective solution to verifying a defendant’s location in the home.
  4. Location monitoring technologies have advantages and limitations. For example, while location monitoring technologies may be used to verify a defendant’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 visits to the defendant and his or her social network in the community.
  5. Location monitoring technology should be dynamic in that probation officers should consistently evaluate the need for the technology, the level of monitoring, and the type of technology used or recommended.
  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 defendant has violated conditions of supervision by failing to be at his or her 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 defendant accountability.
  7. For defendants who qualify for low-risk supervision standards under Judicial Conference policy (see Chapter 1, Section II(C)(1)), contacts with the defendant and his or her social network in the community are not required, and GPS technology should not be used. For these defendants, probation officers should request that the court amend conditions requiring monitoring by GPS to allow for more appropriate monitoring technology (e.g., radio frequency or voice verification).