Electronic tags cut re-offending

Swedish prisoners allowed to serve the end of their sentences outside of jail while under electronic surveillance re-offended less than those who remained in prison, a study published Wednesday said.

Among prisoners with electronic tags, which allowed them to sleep at home and have a job, the rate of second offences was 32 percent less, the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention, which conducted the study, announced in a statement.

The study observed a group of 260 people who had been tagged for three years after their release.

Among the prisoners under electronic surveillance, 26 percent committed second offences compared to 38 percent in the control group who served their full sentences in prison.

The difference was even larger among detainees with previous criminal records limited to one or two convictions.

In that group, 24 percent under electronic surveillance committed a second offence while the rate was 43 percent among the others.

“We were positively surprised to observe that the difference between the groups was that big. Such strong effects had not been recorded in similar foreign studies,” Fredrik Marklund, one of the authors of the report, said in a statement.

The results could be explained by prison authorities’ ability to select detainees that could benefit from the electronic surveillance, among other reasons, he said.

The method implies that the tagged criminal “works outside his home and participates in certain activities that benefit his reintegration. But he has to go back home,” the council explained.

Less than one tagged detainee out of 10 had to go back to prison due to rule violations.

The system, introduced in Sweden in 2001, now includes detainees sentenced to at least one and a half year’s imprisonment.