Better use can be made of the technology. The Electronic Home Detention Law provides that, except for certain excluded offenses, those inmates serving a sentence for a Class 2, 3, or 4 felony may be placed on electronic home detention. While not all of these inmates will be appropriate candidates for ED, the proper use of a risk and needs assessment tool (see Recommendation 2) can identify those inmates who should be placed on ED to serve their sentence, or can be released to ED after serving part of the sentence in prison.115
This technology can relieve prison crowding in other ways as well. One of the difficulties faced by IDOC parole agents is that there are few swift and certain sanctions available when an offender violates the terms of Mandatory Supervised Release. As a result, parole agents often return the offender to prison because there are no other adequate intermediate sanctions available. But research has shown that an intermediate sanction can be a more effective response to a violation, and if electronic monitoring were available as an option, there is a greater chance of a better outcome for both the offender and the public.
Currently IDOC can use electronic monitoring as an intermediate sanction for a violation, but must first get permission of the Prisoner Review Board. The Commission believes that this unnecessarily slows down the process – sanctions work best when they are both swift and certain. The Commission therefore recommends that IDOC be given the authority to place offenders on electronic monitoring for up to thirty days without the permission of the Prisoner Review Board, as a means of allowing graduated sanctions for violations of supervised release.
115 In its Community Corrections Subcommittee, Commissioners heard from Mark Kleiman, the Director of the Crime and Justice Program at New York University’s Marron Institute of Urban Management, and Angela Hawken, [the Director of the Litmus Program at New York University’s Marron Institute of Urban Management] and Director of the Swift, Certain, and Fair Resource Center for the U.S. Department of Justice, on a particularly promising model of electronic detention called graduated reintegration. Under this proposal, a correctional agency would supervise eligible prisoners in apartment settings, monitoring their behavior through a regime of swift, certain, and fair supervision, enabling them to gradually earn more freedom through good behavior or lose freedom through noncompliance. For an early description of this program, see Mark A.R. Kleiman, Angela Hawken, and Ross Halperin, “We Don’t Need to Keep Criminals in Prison to Punish Them,” Vox, (March 2015), accessed Dec. 24, 2016, vox.com/2015/3/18/8226957/prison-reform-graduated-reentry.