More offenders to wear electronic bracelets

By Isaac Davison

Electronic monitoring bracelets will soon be used in a broader range of sentences.
Electronic monitoring bracelets will soon be used in a broader range of sentences.

More offenders are set to be tracked by electronic monitoring bracelets, including inmates who are temporarily released from jail for work or hospital visits.

Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of legislation yesterday, which allows real-time monitoring for a broader range of sentences.

Until now, the electronic bracelets could only be used to track people on home or community detention, or for some high-risk criminals if a court ordered it.

The law change will expand the use of electronic monitoring to people who are temporarily released from jail and to those who are on "intensive supervision" conditions in the community.

It will also clarify that the bracelets can be used for inmates who go outside prison, such as people who are moved into their own units or are admitted to hospital.

Corrections Minister Judith Collins said electronic monitoring was a "proven and successful" method for protecting communities.

"Electronic monitoring plays an important part in deterring further offending and detecting breaches of conditions about where an offender may live and places they may or may not visit," she said.

"Without electronic monitoring these conditions are less effective, because breaches are much harder to detect."

The bill was supported by all political parties except New Zealand First, which said the electronic monitoring system had failed.

"We have always warned this Government that New Zealanders have been hurt, New Zealanders have been raped, and New Zealanders have been killed by offenders who have breached this electronic monitoring system," New Zealand First's corrections spokesman Mahesh Bindra said.

Electronic monitoring bracelets attracted controversy in the past year after several high-profile cases in which child abusers breached their GPS-tracking conditions.

Among the cases was that of Tony Robertson, a convicted child sex offender, who killed Auckland woman Blessie Gotingco while under electoronic monitoring.

The Government boosted funding for the electronic monitoring system in December, in a bid to make the Corrections Department more responsive to any breaches.

- NZ Herald

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