11th Electronic Monitoring Conference Zagreb, Croatia

The 11th edition of the European Electronic Monitoring Conference ‘Blurring boundaries: making and breaking connections’ will be held in Zagreb, Croatia. The conference will take place from the 16th of April until the 18th of April 2018.

Electronic monitoring (EM) has matured into a commonplace penal tool used widely across Europe and beyond. Its applications appear to be limitless and its purposes diverse.

As a result, it is being viewed increasingly as a panacea for a range of societal challenges within and beyond criminal justice leading to numerous uses including in the areas of mental health, domestic violence; terrorism and immigration and diverse target groups including mental health patients, children and young people, victims of domestic violence as well as offenders.

The expansion of existing and potential target areas and groups and the goals and purposes of EM has contributed to blurring of the normative and operational boundaries within which EM is used.

EM is challenging traditional boundaries including those between:

–        punishment, control, public safety and rehabilitation;

–        legal systems (criminal and civil);

–        private and public sectors;

–        state agencies (police, probation and prisons);

–        institutions (prisons and secure mental health facilities) and public and domestic spaces;

–        pre- and post-conviction stages of the criminal justice process.

It is also fragmenting long-standing distinctions between the roles of statutory (police and probation) and private workers (monitoring officers); offenders and victims; and, authorities and significant others.

As technologies advance and become more integrated boundaries between what is necessary and mandated oversight by criminal justice agencies and unwarranted interference in private life is increasingly difficult to distinguish.

At the same time, EM is creating new challenges and opportunities. For example, it leads to questions about whether, and in what ways, EM replaces, develops and/or improves the traditional roles of probation services; the extent to which the police and families are and/or should be involved in ‘supervising’ offenders; and the most effective and efficient ways of providing supervision and support for monitored individuals.

It also creates opportunities to join up different areas of public and social policy and to act as a catalyst for meaningful multi-agency and multi-sector working thereby enabling a more holistic view of monitored individuals to be taken.

The use of EM may also facilitate both the punitive and rehabilitative goals via its habit-breaking and habit-making potential but this depends on its SMART deployment.

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