Center for Media Justice home of the Media Action Grassroots Network

Digital Prisons: Challenging E-Carceration Kick Off

“All you did was switch from a prison setting to a house setting, which is now your new cell. You’re not really free when you got the monitoring system.” – Shaun Harris, spent 1 year on Electronic monitoring

It has been widely reported that the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world, leaving us with the problem of overcrowded jails and prisons. In response, organizers and activists have led successful campaigns to stop the overcriminalization and mass incarceration of black and brown communities by demanding that their cities reduce their incarcerated population. When seeking solutions to address our mass incarceration problem, the state’s response is to rely on technology as a solution – which includes electronic monitoring.

Although electronic monitoring has been used in the criminal legal system for the past 30 years, the number of people on these devices have more than doubled in the past decade.

People living on electronic monitors are afforded few rights and protections and, as this trend continues to grow, electronic monitoring threatens to become a new form of incarceration. This is why we have launched our campaign, Challenging E-Carceration: Respecting the Rights of Individuals on Electronic Monitoring, in partnership with James Kilgore, a 2018 Soros Justice Fellow from the Urbana Champaign Independent Media Center.

For our campaign launch, we hosted a webinar titled “Digital Prisons” and were joined by some of our campaign partners: Topeka K. Sam from The Ladies of Hope Ministries, Megan French Marcelin from JustLeadership USA, and Lavette Mayes from the Chicago Community Bond Fund. During the webinar, we discussed electronic monitoring is a false solution to our mass incarceration problem and highlighted how electronic monitors are actually a continuation of the state surveillance of black and brown communities.

If you missed our Digital Prisons Webinar, please visit our campaign page here to review our guidelines, case studies, and list of signed on organizations. And spread the word. You can also watch a recording of the webinar below:

About the Author

Myaisha Hayes

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