Electronic Monitoring of Offenders in the Community

Electronic Monitoring Device

Michigan's electronic monitoring system is meant to provide community supervision staff with additional tools to more intensely supervise offenders. The Department also provides this monitoring service for some district and probate courts, sheriffs' departments and juvenile offenders. The Curfew Monitoring (formerly known as Radio Frequency) program was successfully piloted in l986 for selected Washtenaw County probationers. By the end of 1987, it was being used on a statewide basis. It allows for the monitoring and enforcement of curfews and other conditions of community supervision. Offenders supervised using electronic monitoring devices are managed more closely than other offenders in the community. The use of electronic monitoring is sometimes used to divert offenders from placement in local county jails as well as act as an additional deterrent to parolees and probationers being managed in the community.

The former Radio Frequency monitoring system did not "track" offenders' whereabouts like a homing device however it was able to determine if offenders were home when they were required to be. As a result of a competitive bid process the Department changed vendors in August of 2014. The new technology (now referred to as Curfew Monitoring) makes use of GPS tracking and cellular service to report violation behavior in real time. Curfew Monitoring tracks offender movement to determine their compliance with an approved schedule by using “home zones” (created in a software application) around their approved residence. Offenders on Curfew Monitoring are merely monitored to confirm their compliance with an approved schedule. Although not required, agents may also review GPS points to verify the offender’s participation in approved programs such as treatment, school, or work. The use of this new technology allows the agent to confirm the offender’s compliance with their imposed curfew while having the ability to “spot check” their movement in the community.

In 2004 the monitoring program for alcohol consumption expanded with the introduction of the S.C.R.A.M. (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring) alcohol monitoring device.  This technology also uses fuel cell technology, but monitors for alcohol consumption twenty-four (24) hours per day, seven days per week.  The S.C.R.A.M. device takes readings 24 hours per day.  Each sample is tested and the readings are stored in the bracelet.  Those readings are transmitted to a host computer through the use of a modem at a pre-determined time.     

Global Positioning System (GPS) technology was officially introduced as an electronic monitoring option within the Department of Corrections in January 2007. The device used for GPS monitoring is the same device that is used for Curfew Monitoring. Its' current primary target population is specific paroled sex offenders. This device records offender movement throughout the community and reports those movements to a host computer. Department of Corrections field agents are required to review all GPS offender maps and track the movement of the GPS classified offenders for each and every day. The map review requirement for GPS monitored offenders is very labor intensive. Consequently, field agents with GPS offenders generally have smaller caseload sizes which allow them to give greater attention and concentration to their GPS offenders.