Surveillance and Confinement:Explaining and Understanding The Experience ofElectronically Monitored Curfews

    by:
  • Mike Nellis (Professor of Criminal and Community Justice, University of Strathclyde )

Electronic monitoring (EM) is now widely used in Western Europe, but its precise nature as a distinct form of penal sanction remains unclear. Since its advent in the USA in the 1980s it has been most commonly characterised as a form of confinement and seen as an analogue of imprisonment. The names it had been given - “home detention”, “community custody” and “curfew”, for example - reflect this view. The surveillant aspects of EM have been vaguely acknowledged, but have relied on dubious ocular metaphors, and remain undertheorised. This paper will argue that EM should be understood primarily as a particular form and experience of surveillance, because the precise regulatory regime which it imposes on offenders (including the element of confinement) is only made possible by remote sensing technology, and has collateral effects alongside confinement. The paper concludes by tentatively placing this new, surveillant conceptualisation of EM within contemporary debates on the changing nature of penality.

Keywords: Electronic monitoring, Surveillance, Curfew, Offender perspective, Discipline

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