From Volume 90, Number 2 (January 2017)
Business is booming for criminal justice monitoring technology: these days “ankle bracelet” refers as often to an electronic monitor as to jewelry. Indeed, the explosive growth of electronic monitoring (“EM”) for criminal justice purposes—a phenomenon which this Article terms “mass monitoring”—is among the most overlooked features of the otherwise well-known phenomenon of mass incarceration.
This Article addresses the fundamental question of whether EM is punishment. It finds that the origins and history of EM as a progressive alternative to incarceration—a punitive sanction—support characterization of EM as punitive, and that EM comports with the goals of dominant punishment theories. Yet new uses of EM have complicated this narrative. The Article draws attention to the expansion of EM both as a substitute for incarceration and as an added sanction, highlighting the analytic importance of what it terms the “substitution/addition distinction.” The Article argues that, as a punitive sanction, EM can be justified when used as a substitute for incarceration, but that its use as an added sanction may result in excessive punishment and raises significant constitutional and policy concerns.