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GPS Supervision in California: One Technology, Two Contrasting Goals

NCJ Number
NIJ Journal Issue: 275 Dated: July 2015 Pages: 1-3
Date Published
July 2015
3 pages
Publication Series
This report presents the findings , methodology, and policy implications from evaluations of two California programs that used GPS surveillance.
One program monitored sex offenders and the other monitored gang members. Both evaluations examined two outcomes: noncompliance (measured by violations of parole) and recidivism (measured by re-arrest, reconviction, and return to prison). The evaluation of the sex offender program determined that sex offenders who received traditional parole supervision were three times more likely to commit a sex-related violation compared with the offenders under GPS supervision. Regarding recidivism, offenders who received traditional supervision were twice as likely to be arrested as those who received supervision with GPS monitoring. The gang-member program evaluation was not as favorable. The odds of a violation were 36 percent greater among gang members on GPS supervision, and the odds of a non-technical violation were 20 percent greater; however, the GPS group was less likely than the traditionally supervised group to be re-arrested (26 percent lower). The difference in the evaluation findings of the two programs may be explained by the treatment element of the sex offender program. Sex offenders are required to attend weekly treatment classes in which clinicians provide psychological evaluations, assessment, and individual and group therapy. The gang-member program does not include a treatment requirement. The goal of the California gang program is to remove individual gang members from the community by quickly identifying violations, enforcing strict revocation rules, and returning the offenders to prison. The GPS monitoring facilitated the identification of gang members who violated their parole conditions. The goal of the sex offender program is to use GPS technology to collect information that can improve supervision, heighten the certainty of treatment, and discourage future crime.

Date Published: July 1, 2015