Let’s look at non-technical solutions for home detention

I imagine that Judith Collins has already called in the head of Corrections for a wee chat after this debacle:

Corrections was left red-faced after Story once again demonstrated how easy it was to cut through the new “uncuttable” home detention anklets — and all it took was a pair of scissors.

The department introduced the new electronic monitoring bracelets on Wednesday, which Corrections Minister Judith Collins called “almost impossible” to remove without “taking off your leg”.

But when put to the test by Story, our strong cameraman, Billy Weepu, made it look quite easy.

While Ms Collins said the new ones were unlikely to be able to be cut off without the help of a chainsaw, all it took was a few snips.

This problem is easy to solve though, and with more traditional and non-technical methods.

A vintage ball and chain with an open shackle on an isolated white studio background

A vintage ball and chain with an open shackle

They are probably much cheaper too. Problem prisoners could have larger balls attached.

But how embarrassing for Dan Parker, the Newshub reporter, who appears to have arms like noodles.


– Newshub


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  • Keeping Stock

    Buying guns illegally, destroying detention bracelets… Gee, those Story people are all class eh…

  • Abjv

    They need to be able to be removed e.g. In a medical emergency. They are like door locks, only stops an honest criminal. I suggest an alternative approach, a bracelet that knows it has been cut off and broadcasts this to all and sundry, with cutting one of these off being deemed the same as escaping from custody I.e. A crime that gets you incarcerated with your sentence extended. Becomes simple then, if you cut one off then when we catch you, you are going to prison. Is escaping from prison a “strike” offence?

  • Joe Banana

    How did Story get their hands on one of these alleged new bracelets.
    They seem to have the ability to acquire paperwork and technology that is out of reach of a normal law abiding citizen

    • Steve kay

      That was a corrections representative he was sat next to. Reckon she prob brought it with her. Just saying

  • Sally

    Why not implant a chip with GPS tracking. At least if cut out there will be a little bit of blood to deal with.
    And the Story crowd will have a little more fun experimenting removing it.

    • shykiwibloke

      Perhaps we should chip all journalists for free – so they can try the system first hand…

    • The Fat Man

      How about chipping all serious offenders, like we do with dogs, for life. Part of the sentence. Have the chip surgically removed and you are sent to prison.

      Prisons would have a real time muster count.

      Public/Private places that have wifi could be set up as checkpoints.

      Every time they pass a checkpoint it records the time and location.

      • Digger

        I like that idea! Especially if hackers could make the chips explode randomly.

  • Steve kay

    Brilliant. Go Billy ya big unit! What an utter fail. Jude will be pleased

  • sarahmw

    It would have been better if it had been on an ankle and why would it need to be removed in a medical emergency? It just looked too easy and most of the cutting was done off screen. Should be metal.

  • Tom

    When I was in Scotland my family was good friends of Macintosh of Mackintosh, Chief of Clan mackintosh. During the wars with the English in 1745 Lady Mackintosh found her husband had sided with the English, when she discovered him She had his feet cut off and sealed with tar then placed him on a small island. About 20 meters by 10 on the lake near their house and in full view. Now that worked!

    • johnandali

      och aye the noo. Some of the old ideas were the best ideas. Worth a try.

  • peterwn

    Even non technical restraints like the one referred to can be removed with low tech devices, such as when the convict asked Pip to get him a file in Great Expectations.

  • Simply make removal a mandatory 12 month prison sentence.

    • shykiwibloke

      Only twelve months Pete? You must be reading too many Green Party policy documents and gone a bit soft. A nice cuppa and a lie down for you!

    • Keyser Soze

      Same deal as failing to stop for Police when driving.

  • shykiwibloke

    If there was a foolproof way of using home detention – it would have been found hundreds of years ago. I suggest we give these crims a holiday at our expense. Let’s send them to Indonesia. I am sure they can house them in a secure environment for a lot less cash than a new NZ prison would cost to build. Might create an added incentive to stay straight on their return home too!

    • Joe Burns

      I would recommend a one-way ticket to Auckland Island. Give them a box of matches and an overnight kit.

    • johnandali

      Singapore. Singapore. Singapore. Sub-contract our entire prison and detention system to the Singaporeans. And on second thoughts, sub-contract our whole criminal justice system to the Singaporeans including using their judges. After a few lashes with the rotan, any misbehaving Kiwi prisoners would be on their best behaviour. Problem solved. Next problem please.

    • The Fat Man

      Yes I have said this before, ship them up in self contained shipping containers on commercial freighters, if they want to fly back at the end of their sentence then they pay the airfare themselves, otherwise it is back in the container.

      Basic fare fish head soup and rice, unless you can pay for the extras.

      Not many if any would be lining up for a 2nd round.

      What to do with our current 5 start prison hotels. maybe an upmarket bed and breakfast or a boarding house for the homeless.

  • Old Kiwi

    So let’s pretend bucket of water for cooling, a piece of sheet metal slid under bracelet to protect flesh and a battery powdered (no AC power required) angle grinder with cut off disc attached, has all yet to be invented. Band monitor activation signal when circuit cut doesn’t stop perp making their getaway.

  • johcar

    How about a band that, if cut without appropriate security measures being taken, explodes?

    • PsychoKea

      I have been thinking a design that has an inbuilt Tazer would be quite useful any attempt to remove the anklet would activate the Tazer , likewise any infringement outside a certain geographical boundary, not as elegant as the explosive solution I admit, the basic tech is already used for dog containment.

      • The Fat Man

        How about a collar.

        Warning beeps as you approach the border then a continuous shock as you cross it.

        Unbreakable, make it of steel.

      • FornaK

        Good idea, it’s multi use too.
        They can use it to jump start a car too if required.

    • Miss Phit

      A simple electrical curcuit that if cut triggers an alarm would do. Weave it through the bracelet so there are multiple strands and a simple test circuit that monitors resistance of the curcuit. Any change and it alarms.

      Or just lock them up…

      • honeybadger

        thats the one!, and once it alerts the monitoring station, off to jail

  • KeepLeft_VoteRight

    Obviously nobody has had a cast removed! Easy enough to fix a depth on an angle grinder.. I think most people removing bracelets would be prepared to risk a scratch!

  • Keyser Soze

    I don’t imagine its actually worth the money to make bracelets that are both wearable and truly indestructible – I’m sure NASA could come up with something to get around the obviousness of @old_kiwi:disqus’s approach, but really, why bother? The solution is actually quite simple – Here you go, here is your EM bracelet. If you ever cut it off it’ll be the last one you ever get. No Bail. No Home detention. It’s off to prison you go. Of course, it’d take some balls so the Dudjes and hand-wringers would find some reason to give him a final, final, final, final, final, final, warning, and bail him again.

    • The Fat Man

      And therein lies the problem, 2nd,3rd 4th,5th,6th,7th,8th,9th,10th,11th,12,………..24th, 25th,26th final warning.

      The judiciary is failing because of these Dudges.

      What we need is accountability, Judges should be elected, Public Prosecutor should be elected, if they fail to meet societies expectations they can be replaced at the next elections.

      Same with the regional Police chiefs.

      When was the last time any were held to account for their short comings.

      • Keyser Soze

        Hmm I like the idea of the accountability elected positions might bring but thought would need to be given to any unintended consequences. The elections would have to be heavily regulated and probably publicly funded otherwise you have the risk of individuals buying their way into those positions.

  • biscuit barrel

    We may be looking at fixing a problem that shouldnt need fixing.
    The real problem is too many people are getting home D that shouldnt be. It is now the first option rather than one they earn.
    Should be only for those who have never been in prison before or those who have been inside for a while and are model prisoners.

  • spanishbride

    The answer is simple. If you cut it off your sentence will now include prison time. Some landlords use a device that alerts a monitoring station if meth use or manufacture is detected inside the dwelling. The device sends a signal to the monitoring station if a tenant attempts to move or interfere with the device in anyway. The Landlords have written into the contract with the tenant the negative consequences and financial cost if they ever touch the unit. Why can’t the same be applied to the ankle bracelets?

  • Rosco

    In my opinion the answer is quite simple. Make the consequence of removing a bracelet eye watering. A new offence with a minimum jail sentence of say 7 years without parole for any person removing or helping to remove a bracelet. The issue is not the bracelet – the issue is the lack of consequences. (Just like every where else – eg. the anti smacking law!)

    • The Fat Man

      True the consequences are a smack with a wet bus ticket and a replacement bracelet.

      How much do these bracelets cost and who gets to pay for any damage? My guess is not the offender.

      The other thing that gets me is the number that are then “considered dangerous” and should not be approached.It was never intended for these people or was it.

      The consequences should be you go back to prison to serve your full sentence without parole or 2 years in prison, the greater of the two.

  • 4site

    Who is the real criminal here:
    – the convicted person who cuts off an inferior product?
    – the designer of the bracelet?
    – the manufacturer of the inferior product?
    – the approving purchaser?

    No matter what names are listed above, in every case the victim is the long suffering taxpayer – again.

  • Keanne Lawrence

    The manufacturer of this “new” device has done a great snow job on somebody selling it on appearance and the claim of being impossible to remove.
    If the Judiciary and Corrections Departments are intent on using such a dubious type of sentence then the very first step is sourcing a device that is secure and extremely difficult to remove. Not simply buying larger quantities of sub standard devices for too frequent replacement.
    There is already diminishing respect and confidence accumulating for the Judicial system who’s go softly handling of criminals has them returning to maintain their threat levels to unsuspecting Kiwis. It does however ensure sufficient volume of recidivist criminals clogging up the courts. the earlier target of reducing recidivist criminals was missed by some 70-80% they did however reach the 25% reduction in the wrong target. That is to say that only around a 9% reduction of recidivist crimes but a 25% in the numbers committing them.
    This should have flashing lights with loud alarm bells ringing but sadly we do not even hear the tiny ting of a triangle. A glaring illustration of getting things drastically wrong when fewer are becoming much more frequent offenders thanks to a weak kneed Judicial system.

  • Paul Marsden

    It beggars belief that we have people like Collins et al, who have got no idea about problem solving in the real world. Firstly, a small angle grinder would have one of these bracelets off in around 10 seconds. The only deterrent to removing them is a “go to jail card:. How hard can that be for heavens sake?? Duh.