Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Alternatives to Prison

As noted in our criminal justice principles, prison works; whereas many of the alternatives being used instead of prison, or those concocted to realize an early release from prison, do not, as this horror story from the Boston Globe reveals.

An excerpt.

“The prosecutor’s report is chilling: A convicted rapist — just out of prison and still on probation — forced his way into a Framingham woman’s home and tormented her for more than two hours in February, repeatedly raping her, then forcing her to bring him beer and drive him to an ATM.

“All the while, an electronic device on William D. French’s ankle was sending a signal to the Probation Department’s 24-hour monitoring centers in Boston and Clinton, where six staff members could track his every movement on their computer screens. The device couldn’t tell them what French was allegedly doing, but even when he triggered an alarm by cutting off the bracelet, probation employees didn’t call police. Instead, they faxed an arrest warrant containing no information about French’s location.

“It took another three hours before the victim, bloodied after yet another assault, escaped from her captor and screamed until a neighbor notified police.

“Ankle bracelets were supposed to make Massachusetts safer, at least that’s what Probation Commissioner John J. “Jack’’ O’Brien and his legislative allies argued as they built one of the biggest, most expensive monitoring systems in the country.

“We are extremely proud of the heightened public safety which has resulted from the implementation of these electronic monitoring programs,’’ O’Brien declared in December, adding that the monitors save the state millions by allowing people to remain free rather than in a cell.

“But, like much of O’Brien’s work during his 12-year tenure at the Probation Department, his claim for the benefits of electronic monitoring collides with the facts. The program, in fact, is an emblem for the many ways the department has been mismanaged under O’Brien, the Spotlight Team has found.”