In short, surveillance technology has spawned a profitable industry, expanded the monitored population, and infringed on humanistic values without showing a significant long-term reduction in crime.
So what might work better? Decades of psychological research indicates that a combination of punishment and reward is the best way to rehabilitate offenders. Offenders tend to push limits and ignore threats. (That, after all, is why they landed in jail or prison.) Therefore, punishment that is swift, certain, and yet moderate is a necessary component of rehabilitation. But rewards are even more important. Here, as in many realms, the carrot can be mightier than the stick.
One of the first things that a person released from prison wants is a smartphone. Most will obtain one, even if their resources are very limited. So instead of a more expensive and heavy 24-hour “prosthetic conscience” strapped to a parolee’s ankle, a specially programmed smartphone will work in many cases. Both ankle monitors and smartphones have GPS functionality, and properly configured smartphones can still tether offenders electronically to their parole officer’s computer or laptop. But smartphones also have apps, which bring new opportunities.