Zoombak and community corrections

Position monitoring via GPS and reporting via the cell-phone network, for less than $1 per day.

The contractors who provide position-monitoring services to probation and parole departments, primarily to track the whereabouts of sex offenders, charge about $10 per day. For $100 plus $15 a month, the Zoombak provides roughly the same functionality, using GPS for position monitoring and cell-phone technology to report the position back to the monitoring unit. The Zoombak lacks some things that would be needed for offender monitoring: a tamper-evident way of preventing the offender from leaving the device behind and real-time reporting. But it’s most of the way to what is needed .

Combine cheap position monitoring with effective enforcement of probation rules as demonstrated by Judge Alm in Honolulu, and suddenly probation and parole become close substitutes for incarceration in terms of preventing new crimes. I’m convinced that we could have half as many people in prison ten years from now as we do today, while also having half as much crime.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com