As covid-19 began to spread earlier this year, it soon became clear that prisons and jails are particularly susceptible to outbreaks. In response, criminal justice systems around the world started looking for alternatives to incarceration.
Many turned to electronic ankle monitors as a solution. They used this technology to quickly relocate people from secure custody to the relative safety of their homes, and placed them under continuous electronic supervision. At the same time, courts in the US and Australia began to experiment with using ankle monitors for an entirely different purpose—enforcing quarantine orders.
The pandemic has subtly normalized the expanded use of ankle monitors around the world. This is a worrisome trend that we shouldn’t allow to go unexamined. Previous research suggests that ankle monitors do not conclusively reduce recidivism, and the technology has no history as a tool for enforcing compliance with public health orders. In fact, frequent and