Thursday, October 26, 2006

BIG CITIZEN OVERSIGHT NEEDED FOR COMMUNITY CUSTODY PROGRAM

The Bernalillo County Commission is debating this month over the issue of early release of convicts. It seems that the Community Custody program may be expanded. Convicts are placed in the program as an alternative to jail, and the program calls for intensive monitoring, work release, electronic bracelets, drug testing, etc. The County accepts the program, because at present a transfer from regular jail to the community program (referred to as “early release”) is approved by the sentencing judge.

The jail authorities think so highly of the program that they want to expand it by adding convicts who have been sentenced to jail regardless of whether the convicts have been cleared by the Judge for such community service. The jail authorities want to make the decision as to who gets early release. Judges want to retain control. The proposal has been deferred in the County Commission for several weeks while a compromise is put forth.

This Community Custody program is a useful tool, another arrow in the Judge’s quiver. The Judge should decide, and the public should hold the Judge accountable for errors of judgment. It is like old-fashioned probation; it can be good, or it can be ill-advised.

Here is a suggestion. The Community Custody program should be monitored by Big Citizen. The citizens should have access to on-line programs to monitor the monitors, and thereby be assured that Joe Sixpack is following his directions. Home at certain hours; no booze; some booze; booze at certain hours; work certain hours; show at school at certain times; and the like.

If this supervision were put on-line, the citizens and police would have confidence that violations would be detected and reported (back to the responsible Judge). We favor house arrest; home detention; drug (including alcohol) monitoring; and other restrictions of liberty. They can be used to punish and to rehabilitate, if applied properly, in deserving cases, and if there is a proper follow up with monitoring. However, this is a program which needs close monitoring by BIG CITIZEN.

4 comments:

Robert Gable said...

Sounds like a good idea. Have you any specific suggestions as to how citizens could monitor on-line?
Mr. Love, are you the retired judge who get credit (in my opinion) for initating electronic monitoring in New Mexico?

Jack L. Love said...

Yo, Robert. Glad to know someone is reading this blog. Yes, I am the guy (now really retired). The authorities monitor by use of computer. If the convict leaves home, or his alcohol bracelet reads positive, a computer gets that information in digital form. Let us access that information. If my neighbor, or my attacker, is supposed to be home at six p.m., I can help by monitoring the monitor and keeping that monitor honest. Frankly, I do not know the mechanics, but am reliably informed that it can be done.

robert gable said...

Jack Love,
Most happy to know you are still being so innovative! The electonic monitoring agencies are getting swamped with data, particularly "active GPS" that can send information every minute in real time. The data come into a central computer so I assume that appoved citizens could have access as volunteers. Seems logical.
Are you happy with how the use of electronic monitoring has evolved over the years?
Were you inspired by a Spiderman cartoon?

Jack L. Love said...

Note to public. The one who is commenting (Professor Robert Gable)invented an electronic monitoring or tracking device as early as 1961, when he was in Harvard. He is truly the pioneer in the field. One of my goals is to promote the use of that and similar technology to improve government and the criminal justice system.