January 24, 2007
ELECTRONIC MONITORING OF PROBATIONERS AND PAROLEES
By: Sandra Norman-Eady, Chief Attorney
You asked whether the state has the authority to require probationers and parolees to be electronically monitored. If so, you asked for the number of people being monitored.
The law authorizes courts, the Board of Pardons and Paroles, and probation, but not parole, officers to set release conditions, including a requirement to submit to electronic monitoring. Courts and probation officers set the conditions for release on probation and the Board of Pardons and Paroles for release on parole or special parole. Department of Correction (DOC) parole officers supervise inmates who are granted parole.
The state has electronically monitored selected parolees and probationers for years. Currently, 242 adult probationers are being monitored by the traditional electronic monitoring program (EMP), according to Michael Aiello, program manager at the Office of Adult Probation. Of the 242 probationers, 58 (24%) are sex offenders. An additional three probationers, all sex offenders, are being monitored by the global positioning system (GPS).
According to Gary Barwikowski, a Department of Correction parole supervisor in the Hartford regional office, 343 parolees are being monitored by EMP and 21 are being monitored by GPS. All of the parolees being monitored by GPS are sex offenders.
AUTHORITY TO MONITOR
The Board of Pardons and Paroles has “independent decision-making authority to…establish conditions of parole or special parole supervision in accordance with section 54-126” (CGS § 54-124a (f)). This broad authority appears to include the power to impose the conditions you specified in your question.
CGS § 54-126 authorizes the board to establish such rules and regulations under which a prisoner may be paroled. It also authorizes the parole panel for a particular case to establish special conditions for the parole. It requires the board chairman to enforce these rules, regulations, and conditions and to revoke parole for any reason that the panel, or the chairman with the panel's approval, deems sufficient. Board employees indicate that the conditions specified in your question are often made a condition of parole.
Courts may sentence a person to probation upon conviction of any crime, other than a class A felony, if it believes that: (1) confinement is not necessary to protect the public; (2) the defendant needs guidance, training, or assistance which can be effectively administered through probation services; and (3) probation is consistent with the ends of justice (CGS § 53a-29). When imposing a sentence of probation, the court may order the defendant to comply with a number of different conditions, including electronic monitoring (CGS § 53a-30).
A court may require that a defendant subject to electronic monitoring pay the cost of electronic monitoring services up to $5 per day (plus inflation since the $5 maximum was set in 2000). If the court finds that the defendant is indigent and unable to pay, it must waive the costs (CGS § 53a-30(e)). According to William Carbone, executive director of OAP, the cost of electronic monitoring varies by type and offenders are rarely able to pay. Electronic bracelets cost $3.22 per day, passive monitoring (i.e., where an e-mail is sent or a beep goes off if an offender goes past set boundaries) costs a little over $5 per day, and active monitoring (i.e., where an offender's movement is tracked on a computer screen) costs over $12 a day, according to Carbone.
In addition to courts, the OAP may set conditions of probation. By law, OAP may require a defendant to comply with some or all of the conditions a court could have imposed that are not inconsistent with any conditions the court actually imposed (CGS § 53a-30(b)). Currently, OAP uses one of two forms to set conditions of probation. It uses JD-AD-110 (attached) to set conditions for non-sex offenders and JD-CR-131 (attached) to set conditions for sex offenders.
Of the 11 standard conditions for non-sex offenders, the ones relevant to your request include requirements for them to:
1. keep their probation officer informed of their whereabouts and give immediate notice of any change in address or employment,
2. get a probation officer's permission before leaving the state, and
3. refrain from driving a motor vehicle if driving privilege is under suspension.
Probation officers using JD-CR-131 select, from a total of 25 possible conditions, the ones that apply to each sex offender. The conditions relevant to your request require probationers to:
1. get a probation officer's approval before contacting their crime victim or the victim's family,
2. have their place of residence approved by a probation officer and get permission before moving or sleeping overnight at another location,
3. have a probation officer pre-approve their employment,
4. abide by any curfew a probation officer imposes, and
5. submit to electronic monitoring as directed.
ELECTRONIC MONITORING SYSTEMS
One type of monitoring, EMP, requires the parolee or probationer to wear either a bracelet or anklet at all times and to have a monitoring box placed in his residence. The board determines the hours during which the parolee or probationer must remain in his residence and the box is programmed to reflect that schedule. If he is absent from his residence during a period when he is required to be there the device automatically notifies the electronic monitoring service provider with which the state contracts. The provider prepares a report concerning the violation and electronically transmits it to the appropriate parole or probation officer.
Under GPS, the other type of electronic monitoring program, the probationer or parolee must wear a bracelet or anklet and carry a separate device called a transponder. The system allows the appropriate authorities to program geographic as well as curfew conditions into it. For example the system can be programmed to show a violation whenever the probationer or parolee comes within a certain distance of a school or a day care center. This system sends data to the service provider indicating exactly where the probationer or parolee went and what time he was there. It indicates a violation if he violates either a geographic or curfew condition of release.
Both types of electronic monitoring can be set up as “active” or “passive.” The active type is designed to give real-time reports of violations. The passive type provides violation reports to the appropriate officer the next day. Currently, Connecticut only uses passive monitoring.