How Detention Centers Make Use of GPS Monitoring Devices

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detention centers

Detention centers have hit the headlines this year frequently. In part due to the President’s controversial zero-tolerance policy towards immigration.

While alternatives to detention (ATDs) have been in use since around 2002, they’ve increased in popularity and widespread use. This has been compounded by the recent scandals around the separation of immigrant parents from their children. Due to this, ATDs have emerged as a common-sense, middle-ground alternative to family detention.

We’ll take a look into exactly how detention centers are using GPS monitoring devices, as well as the pros and cons.

How Detention Centers Work

Detention centers are in place to deal with the influx of illegal immigrants to America. The Trump Administration in particular has focused on the use of detention centers. This is as opposed to other more humane and less forceful alternatives.

The policy intended to deter illegal immigration by creating tougher consequences. However, the reality of the policy was a costly means to an end with some viable criticisms.

The tough approach ran from April 2018 and was ended in June 2018. This was largely due to increased attention on the inhumane practice of separating migrant children and parents. This in turn created a child migrant crisis where many migrant children have been unable to be reunited with their parents.

The policy has since been amended by executive order to end family separations at the border. Besides this criticism, immigrant detention centers come under fire due to high costs. 

ICE’s own Fiscal Year Budget for 2018 states it costs $133 a day per bed in an immigrant detention center. However, immigration groups have estimated the number to be around $200 a day per bed. Meanwhile, a family bed to keep mothers with their children is an estimated $319 a day per bed. 

These aren’t even the most expensive detention center estimates. The “tent cities” featured on the news recently which hold separated children cost an estimated $775 a day per bed. 

Due to these high costs, and the large criticisms from activist groups, federal authorities began to shift back to ATDs again. This includes GPS monitoring devices.

GPS Monitoring Devices

GPS monitoring devices are also known as ankle monitors or electronic monitoring devices. The U.S Immigration and Customs Enforcement has once again turned to this technology as a more cost-effective and humane solution to the immigration crisis. 

This is as part of the ICE Intensive Supervision of Appearance Program. This program doesn’t focus on detaining immigrants. It instead focuses on monitoring them while they go through the legal immigration process.

This monitoring includes in-person and phone check-ins, as well as GPS monitoring devices. Around 65 percent of people participating in this program are fitted with GPS monitors. The way these devices work is pretty simple.

The technology allows the individual to be geographically monitored in real-time. This is done through radio frequency signals. Alerts are sent if the individual leaves a designated area or attempts to remove the device. 

Benefits of GPS Monitoring Devices

ATDs such as GPS monitoring devices are much more cost-effective than detention. Low-cost ATD programs can be as low as $4.50 per person per day. Compared to the stark $200 daily estimate for detention programs, it’s easy to see why ATDs are more popular from a fiscal perspective.

Funding for ATDs in the 2018 FY was at $180 million. This was a $66 million increase from 2017 funding. But the funding will go much further than it does in detention centers. 

Some are concerned about the effectiveness of alternatives to detention. But ATDs have largely proven to be effective. They have proven success at ensuring attendance for court dates, exceeding over 90 percent compliance. 

Other critics of ATDs state immigrants will remove their GPS monitoring devices. But older statistics suggest this isn’t the case.

Only 5 percent of those in an ATD program in 2012 fled. This is a much lower percentage than those who received asylum or were deported. 

Other critics say the devices restrict both physical and social freedoms too much. This argument centers around the idea that they cause physical discomfort, as well as creating a social stigma for the wearer. The latter in particular is linked to limiting job opportunities for asylum seekers. 

In reality, they’re much preferable over detention center programs for participants. High-quality GPS monitoring devices should not cause any physical discomfort. The program using the devices should use regular check-ins to adjust for comfort as required.

Additionally, more technologically advanced GPS devices are discreet to avoid social stigmas. 

Myth Busting Deportation Rates

One of the myths circulating ATDs is that they have lower deportation rates. Recent figures from the immigration courts showed four in ten non-detained immigrants did not show up for their final removal. 

This sounds like a stark figure, bringing up images of absconding into the undocumented population of America. But in reality, there’s a much simpler explanation. It’s mostly down to an overburdened immigration court system.

ICE themselves state the numbers are low because cases are not prioritized. This means cases drag on for years in some instances and are essentially forgotten about. In this sense, it could be easily remedied by investing in both ATDs and filling out the immigration court system to speed up the process.

ATDs Are the Future

Overall, ATDs like GPS monitoring devices are a viable middle-ground. They allow immigration policy to continue to be enforceable and appease the concerns of immigration rights groups. They offer a less restrictive and more humane solution to detention centers.

Our GPS monitoring devices are comfortable and reliable with a long-lasting battery. Get in touch with us to discuss our products and whether they may be suitable for your business. 

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