The conservative approach to criminal justice:
fighting crime, supporting victims, and protecting taxpayers.

Reverse Engineering Crime Control

| December 9, 2011

Attorney Peter M. Thomson, via the Federalist Society, has a question for criminologists: “If recidivist offenders as an entire class were technologically ‘blocked’ from engaging in criminal behavior, would not crime rates plummet correspondingly?”

Thomson considers whether intensive electronic monitoring through a GPS devise might provide a far greater reduction of recidivism risks. This monitoring would include cross-referencing the offender’s location with local law enforcement information and other technologically-enhanced supervisory possibilities.

Thomson points out a few successful examples of GPS monitoring across several jurisdictions. He also notes the constitutional issues raised by electronic tracking, but he concludes that it could likely withstand such challenges.

Many courts already use electronic monitoring both pre- and post-adjudication (for an example, see this recent article about a successful program in Jefferson County, New York). Thomson suggests that the technology is likely to expand—both in scope and intensity.


RIGHT ON CRIME is a national campaign to promote successful, conservative solutions on American criminal justice policy—reforming the system to ensure public safety, shrink government, and save taxpayers money. By sharing research and policy ideas and mobilizing strong conservative voices, we work to raise awareness of the growing support for effective reforms within the conservative movement. We are transforming the debate on criminal justice in America.