Journal of Experimental Criminology

, Volume 1, Issue 2, pp 215–237 | Cite as

Can electronic monitoring reduce crime for moderate to high-risk offenders?

  • Marc RenzemaEmail author
  • Evan Mayo-Wilson
Research Article


Electronic monitoring (EM) of offenders has been in use for just over two decades and motives for using it remain diverse. Some agencies that use EM attempt to deliver humane and affordable sanctions while others seek to relieve jail crowding or to avoid the construction of new jails. Nonetheless, all EM programs aim to suppress the criminal behavior of offenders being monitored and its advocates have always hoped EM could be instrumental in reducing long-term recidivism. This review investigates the history of EM and the extent to which EM empirically affects criminal behavior in moderate to high-risk populations. All available recidivism studies that included at least one comparison group between the first impact study in 1986 and 2002 were considered for the review. Although variants such as GPS tracking and continuous testing for alcohol in perspiration have recently emerged, no studies of these technologies were found that met the review’s inclusion criteria. Studies are examined and combined for meta-analysis where appropriate. Given its continued and widespread use and the dearth of reliable information about its effects, the authors conclude that applications of EM as a tool for reducing crime are not supported by existing data. Properly controlled experiments would be required to draw stronger conclusions about the effects of EM.

Key words

electronic monitoring evaluation house arrest house detention meta-analysis offender parole probation recidivism re-offending review systematic review tagging 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Bonta, J., Wallace-Capretta, S. & Rooney, J. (1999). Electronic monitoring in Canada. Ottawa: Solicitor General.Google Scholar
  2. Bonta, J., Wallace-Capretta, S. & Rooney, J. (2000a). Can electronic monitoring make a difference? An evaluation of three Canadian programs. Crime and Delinquency 46(2), 61–75.Google Scholar
  3. Bonta, J., Wallace-Capretta, S. & Rooney, J. (2000b). A quasi-experimental evaluation of an intensive rehabilitation supervision program. Criminal Justice and Behavior 27(3), 312–329.Google Scholar
  4. Conway, P. (2003). Survey of agencies using electronic monitoring reveals a promising future. Journal of Offender Monitoring 16(2), 5, 18–23.Google Scholar
  5. Corbett, R. & Marx, G. T. (1991). Critique: No soul in the new machine: Techno fallacies in the electronic monitoring movement. Justice Quarterly 8(3), 399–414.Google Scholar
  6. Counsell, C., Clarke M., Slattery, J. & Sandercock, P. (1994). The miracle of DICE therapy for acute stroke: Fact or fictional product of subgroup analysis? British Medical Journal 309, 1677–1681.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Cullen, F. T. & Gendreau, P. (2000). Assessing correctional rehabilitation: Policy, practice, and prospects. In J. Horney (Ed.), Policies, processes, and decisions of the criminal justice system: Criminal justice 2000, vol. 3 (pp. 109–175). Washington, DC: U.S. National Institute of Justice.Google Scholar
  8. Dodgson, K., Goodwin, P., Howard, P., Llewellyn-Thomas, S., Mortimer, E., Russell, N., et al. (2001). Electronic monitoring of released prisoners: An evaluation of the home detention curfew scheme (Home Office Research Study No. 222). London: Home Office Research Development and Statistics Directorate.Google Scholar
  9. English, K., Pullen, S. & Jones, L. (1996). Managing sex offenders: A containment approach. Lexington, KY: American Probation and Parole Association.Google Scholar
  10. Finn, M. A. & Muirhead-Steves, S. (2002). The effectiveness of electronic monitoring with violent male parolees. Justice Quarterly 19(2), 293–312.Google Scholar
  11. Florida Department of Corrections, Probation and Parole Services. (1987). Verifier wristlet project evaluation report (agency report). MiamiYFort Lauderdale: Florida Department of Corrections.Google Scholar
  12. Gainey, R. R., Payne, B. K. & O’Toole, M. (2000). The relationships between time in jail, time on electronic monitoring, and recidivism: An event history analysis of a jail based program. Justice Quarterly 17(4), 733–752.Google Scholar
  13. Gendreau, P. & Ross, R. (1979). Effective correctional treatment: Bibliotherapy for cynics. Crime and Delinquency 25(4), 463–489.Google Scholar
  14. Gendreau, P. L., Goggin, C., Cullen, F. T. & Andrews, D. A. (2000). The effects of community sanctions and incarceration on recidivism. Forum on Corrections Research 12(2), 10–13.Google Scholar
  15. Jolin, A. (1987). Electronic surveillance program: Clackamas County Community Corrections Oregon Evaluation (agency report). Oregon City, OR: Clackamas County Community Corrections.Google Scholar
  16. Jolin, A. & Stipak, B. (1992). Drug treatment and electronically monitored home confinement: An evaluation of a community-based sentencing option. Crime and Delinquency 38(also cited as 39)(2), 158–170.Google Scholar
  17. Jones, M. & Ross, D. L. (1997). Electronic house arrest and boot camp in North Carolina: Comparing recidivism. Criminal Justice Policy Review 8(4), 383–404.Google Scholar
  18. Latessa, E. T., Cullen, F. & Gendreau, P. (2002). Beyond correctional quackery–professionalism and the possibility of effective treatment. Federal Probation 66(2), 43–49.Google Scholar
  19. MacKenzie, D. L. (1997). Chapter 9: Criminal justice and crime prevention. In L. W. Sherman, D. Gottfredson, D. MacKenzie, J. Eck, P. Reuter & S. Busway (Eds.), Preventing crime: What works, what doesn’t, what’s promising: A report to the United States Congress (pp. 9-1–9-83). Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice.Google Scholar
  20. Mainprize, S. (1996). Elective affinities in the engineering of social control: The evolution of electronic monitoring. Electronic Journal of Sociology 2(2), 26.Google Scholar
  21. Petersilia, J. & Turner, S. (1990). Comparing intensive and regular supervision for high-risk probationers: Early results from an experiment in California. Crime and Delinquency 36(1), 87–111.Google Scholar
  22. Quinn, J. F. & Holman, J. E. (1991). The efficacy of electronically monitored home confinement as a case management device. Journal of Contemporary Criminal Justice 7(2), 128–134.Google Scholar
  23. Renzema, M. (2003). Electronic Monitoring’s Impact on Reoffending, Revised March 24, 2003. Retrieved 20 August, 2004, from
  24. Renzema, M. & Skelton, D. T. (1990). The use of electronic monitoring by criminal justice agencies 1989: A description of extent, offender characteristics, programmatic issues, and legal aspects. Bloomington, IN: National Institute of Justice.Google Scholar
  25. Schafer, N. E. & Martin, P. (2001). Evaluation of a JAIBG-Funded Project: Voice and location telephone monitoring of juveniles (grant report for BJS grant 1999-JR-VX-005). Anchorage, AK: University of Alaska Anchorage.Google Scholar
  26. Schmidt, A. K. (1998). Electronic monitoring: What does the literature tell us? Federal Probation 62(2), 10–15.Google Scholar
  27. Schwitzgebel, R. (1967). Electronic innovation in the behavioral sciences: A call to responsibility. American Psychologist 22(5), 364–370.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  28. Sherman, L. & Strang, H. (2004). Verdicts or inventions?: Interpreting results from randomized controlled experiments in criminology. American Behavioral Scientist 47, 575–607.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Sugg, D., Moore, L. & Howard, P. (2001). Electronic monitoring and offending behaviorVreconviction results for the second year of trials of curfew orders (No. Research Findings No. 141). London: Home Office Research, Development and Statistics Directorate.Google Scholar
  30. U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. (2002). Recidivism of Prisoners Released in 1994. Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  31. Whitfield, D. (2001). The magic bracelet. Winchester, UK: Waterside Press.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Criminal Justice ProgramKutztown UniversityKutztownUSA

Personalised recommendations