A new electronic monitoring law – will it be used to make us safer?

Corrections Minister Judith Collins has welcomed the passing of an electronic monitoring bill which is designed to further protect and improve the safety of victims and the public.

The Electronic Monitoring of Offenders Legislation Bill has had its third and final reading in Parliament.

The Bill amends the Corrections Act 2004, the Sentencing Act 2002, and the Parole Act 2002 to:

– enable the courts to impose electronic monitoring as a special condition of release when sentencing an offender to a short term prison sentence of up to two years.

– enable the courts to impose electronic monitoring when sentencing an offender to Intensive Supervision.

– clarify the Department’s legislative authority to electronically monitor prisoners permitted to go outside the wire (i.e. those residing in external self-care units and prisoners granted temporary release or removed from prison).

“Electronic monitoring has been a proven and successful way of protecting the community but this bill will allow better use of the law and together with a range of other measures, make a significant contribution to maintaining public safety and, indirectly, to rehabilitating certain offenders,” says Ms Collins.

“It will widen the scope of electronic monitoring to some offenders who previously could not be supervised in this way. This means people who were not previously able to be electronically monitored and were in the community without GPS monitoring will now be monitored. Corrections will know where they are, and the community will be safer.”

The Bill will remove legislative barriers to electronic monitoring in the Sentencing Act and make it available to the courts when imposing either one of two sentences: a prison sentence of up to two years with release on conditions specified by the courts, and a sentence of intensive supervision. It will also clarify that prisoners who are temporarily outside the secure perimeter of a prison, for example to work or go to hospital, can be electronically monitored.

“The Bill is intended to target violent offenders and child sex offenders whose risk of re-offending is associated with certain geographical areas such as parks or schools,” says Ms Collins.

“It will give the courts the option of imposing electronic monitoring as a condition when sentencing some higher risk offenders who may not get a long term prison sentence.”

Parliament can enact all the laws it likes, but unless they are actively implemented and enforced, they aren’t much use to anyone.

The proof will be in the pudding.

  • Mick Ie

    I would have more faith in the strengthening of the laws if I knew the ankle bracelets were not so easy to remove,
    A large adjustment to their design should have been the first priority.

    • Malcolm

      The rivetedforged leg irons of old were rather difficult to get off.

      • Old Kiwi

        That was maybe so before battery powered disc grinders were invented.

  • cows4me

    It should go around the neck so the public know straight away they are in the midst of a wrongdoer. A bit of shame would do more good than something hidden away.