October 2000

New equipment enhances offender 
monitoring capabilities

RALEIGH – Probation/parole officers responsible for supervising offenders sentenced to electronic monitoring have new tools to help them keep better tabs on offenders’ comings and goings.

The new equipment offers several advantages over the previous devices. First, the ankle bracelet and the transmitter are more tamper resistant. Second, the equipment has programming features that allows officers to tailor offenders’ restrictions on a case-by-case basis. The previous equipment had to be programmed from the operation’s central monitoring center.

In addition to the practical improvements, the new system provides Community Corrections managers with additional resources, such as multiple report formats, to increase the operation’s efficiency. Also, the new equipment and computer server are leased, which will enable the Department of Correction to adapt to changes in technology without having to purchase an entire new system.

Officers across the state currently are converting equipment assigned to specific offenders; the conversion was expected to be completed by early October. Across the state, there are 800 offenders being monitored by Division of Community Corrections. Although the largest number of those are probationers or parolees, Community Corrections also provides monitoring services to the Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and pre-trial programs funded through either the Criminal Justice Partnership Program or local sheriff’s offices.

The Department of Correction’s electronic monitoring program began in 1987 with a pilot site in Winston-Salem and was expanded statewide in 1990. Electronic monitoring uses computer technology to monitor and restrict the offender’s movement. Other than going to work or to receive rehabilitative services, the offender is restricted to his/her home. The offender is required to wear an ankle bracelet that emits a signal through a transmitter to the monitoring system’s computer. The computer makes periodic automated telephone calls to the offender’s residence to determine if the unit is inside the residence. If the unit’s signal is not detected during a time when the offender should be at home, the violation is checked by a probation/parole officer or by a designated electronic house arrest response officer.

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