During the CEP conference on electronic monitoring, some participants were interviewed by Paris-based Freelance Director Philippe Borel. ‘I’m making a television documentary on Electronic Monitoring, commissioned by the Franco-German television network ARTE’, says Borrel. ‘I plan to finish my work by the end June, so after translation and screening the programme can be broadcasted in September.’

‘In France, Electronic monitoring is still a very new phenomenon’, explains Borrel. ‘There are 60,000 inmates, and only some 2,000 are in a programme of electronic monitoring. ARTE wanted to inform the French and German audience on electronic monitoring: what is at stake with this surveillance system. As electronic monitoring is a rather new development anywhere in the world, I want to show the different developments in this field in Europe and the United States. In the programme, for instance, I will show the extreme example of what is happening in Denver, where there is a strong businesslike approach to electronic monitoring. Offenders are seen as clients, who pay 18 dollars a day for their satellite tracking device. I also want to show another part of the US where the State prison system prefers to invest in voice recognition instead of these bracelets, in order to save money to invest in human rehabilitation. I want to show that these two models and other approaches might be useful, but that there are aspects on the different ways of implementing electronic monitoring which may have unwanted side effects.’

‘I visited this CEP conference for one particular item: the interaction between probation, i.e. the users, and the electronic industry, i.e. the manufacturers. In France the general idea is that probation shouldn’t mix up with the industry. There is some fear that companies always will try to push their sales by influencing people from the public domain, as is known from the pharmaceutical industry. However, there are some countries in Europe where there is dealt differently with this matter. On the CEP conference, both experts and representatives from the industry were present. I wanted to register the different ideas on the interaction between the public and the private parties.’

‘Apart from the US and Holland, I have footage from France, England, Spain and Germany. I tried to be as broad as possible: I have interviewed experts, politicians, lawyers, psychologists, inmates, offenders. My purpose was just to register the different opinions. Therefore, I won’t use any voice over in my documentary; you won’t hear me speaking. My programme will take some 52 minutes. As far as I know, it should be broadcasted in September, but there’s no guarantee it will be. Two years ago, a colleague of mine was also commissioned to do a programme on electronic monitoring, but it was never broadcasted.’

‘Personally, I thought it was striking that everyone I spoke to agreed on the destructive influence that jail has on the personality of inmates. In that sense, I do believe jail is counterproductive. So I think electronic monitoring is an interesting technology, since it can provide a more humane alternative to jail. Nevertheless, I think we have to remain vigilant. We constantly should ask ourselves the question whether or not we’re doing the right thing in every step of the development of electronic monitoring.’

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