NY Times Magazine article ‘E-jail’ by Ava Kofman

A 3 July 2019 article in the NY Times Magazine entitled ‘Digital Jail: How Electronic Monitoring Drives Defendants Into Debt’ by Ava Kaufman compellingly illustrates the concepts of heightened vulnerability, and of non-programmatic factors, as described in Social Role Valorization (SRV). Note also the example of a private for-profit human service organization.

From the article:

“On Oct. 12, 2018, Daehaun White walked free, or so he thought … The lanky 19-year-old had been sitting for almost a month in St. Louis’s Medium Security Institution, a city jail known as the Workhouse, after being pulled over for driving some friends around in a stolen Chevy Cavalier. When the police charged him with … driving a car without its owner’s consent — and held him overnight, he assumed he would be released by morning. … He had no previous convictions. But the $1,500 he needed for the bond was far beyond what he or his family could afford. It wasn’t until his public defender, Erika Wurst, persuaded the judge to lower the amount to $500 cash, and a nonprofit fund, the Bail Project, paid it for him, that he was able to leave the notoriously grim jail … When he finally read Wurst’s letter, however, he realized there was a catch. Even though Wurst had argued against it, the judge … had ordered him to wear an ankle monitor that would track his location at every moment using GPS. For as long as he would wear it, he would be required to pay $10 a day to a private company, Eastern Missouri Alternative Sentencing Services, or Emass. Just to get the monitor attached, he would have to report to Emass and pay $300 up front — enough to cover the first 25 days, plus a $50 installation fee … In recent years, politicians on both sides of the aisle have joined criminal-justice reformers in recognizing mass incarceration as both a moral outrage and a fiscal sinkhole. As ankle bracelets have become compact and cost-effective, legislators have embraced them as an enlightened alternative. More than 125,000 people in the criminal-justice system were supervised with monitors in 2015, compared with just 53,000 people in 2005 … It costs St. Louis roughly $90 a day to detain a person awaiting trial in the Workhouse, where in 2017 the average stay was 291 days. When individuals pay Emass $10 a day for their own supervision, it costs the city nothing … White assumed that GPS supervision would prove a minor annoyance. Instead, it was a constant burden. The box was bulky and the size of a fist, so he couldn’t hide it under his jeans … The biggest problem was finding work. Confident and outgoing, White had never struggled to land jobs; after dropping out of high school in his junior year, he flipped burgers at McDonald’s and Steak ’n Shake. To pay for the monitor, he applied to be a custodian at Julia Davis Library, a cashier at Home Depot, a clerk at Menards. The conversation at Home Depot had gone especially well, White thought, until the interviewer casually asked what was on his leg … In 2011, the National Institute of Justice surveyed 5,000 people on electronic monitors and found that 22 percent said they had been fired or asked to leave a job because of the device.”

Posted on July 28, 2019 at 12:08 pm by MTumeinski · Permalink
In: Uncategorized · Tagged with: ,

Leave a Reply