The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Feds eye expanded use of electronic ankle bracelets for prisoners, immigrants

  • Print

OTTAWA - Canada's prison service plans a new pilot project to test the effectiveness of electronic ankle bracelets on offenders released into the community with conditions.

In addition, the federal border agency will consult the United States and Britain as part of a study looking at expanded use of the tracking devices on immigrants and refugee claimants.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews outlined the initiatives — despite steadfast opposition from the NDP — in a written response to a Commons committee that examined electronic bracelets last year.

"The advantages rest with potential cost savings, as well as enhanced monitoring and supervision in the corrections and immigration enforcement contexts," Toews said in the letter tabled in Parliament.

"The challenges are primarily with respect to effective implementation and evaluation."

In its September report, a majority of the Commons public safety committee recommended the federal prison and border agencies look into broader use of electronic monitoring.

However, the NDP disagreed, saying the government's own witnesses made it clear that the devices are not effective for low-risk offenders.

"Electronic monitoring is not cheap, it's expensive," committee member and NDP public safety critic Randall Garrison said Thursday. "You're spending a lot of money on people who are unlikely to reoffend."

In his letter, Toews said a steering committee of representatives from the Correctional Service, Public Safety and the Defence Department's Centre for Security Science would oversee and evaluate the prison service's pilot project slated for this year.

"Electronic monitoring will not be used as an alternative to detention but to enhance compliance with conditions upon release," Toews said.

He added that research has shown electronic tracking bracelets work best when accompanied by correctional programming for offenders.

"The overarching goal of implementing an electronic monitoring program should be to maximize public safety," said the letter. "Supervision tools are used to promote public safety by facilitating the safe reintegration of eligible offenders into the community."

The new study will benefit from passage of the Conservatives' omnibus crime bill, which gives the prison service authority to demand that an offender who leaves prison on temporary absence, work release, parole, statutory release or long-term supervision wear a monitoring device, Toews said.

Garrison said while it may be worth attaching bracelets to the small number of high-risk offenders, most prisoners in the categories Toews mentions "have already been evaluated as low risk to be out in public, or they wouldn't be on those programs."

Under immigration law, the Canada Border Services Agency detained 9,929 people for an average of 19 days in 2011-12, the government says.

Toews noted the Immigration and Refugee Board has ordered electronic monitoring as a condition of release in a few cases, and a handful of Muslim men facing deportation under national security certificates currently wear ankle bracelets.

The border services agency will study the experiences of the United States and Britain, the only two countries that have implemented broader electronic monitoring immigration programs, the letter said.

The border agency will also review existing research regarding the "feasibility and risks" of using electronic monitoring with various detainee groups, including pregnant women.

If the agency finds that electronic bracelets in the immigration context could "benefit public safety and program integrity," it will consider a pilot project to explore the expanded use of electronic monitoring, Toews added.

"The results of such an initiative would help inform any potential program."

The New Democrats oppose placing bracelets on immigrants or refugees who have not broken the law, Garrison said. "We don't see any evidence that there's a need for this in the immigration context."

In the letter, Toews accused the NDP of failing to "take the abuse of Canada's immigration laws seriously."

Neither the prison service nor the border agency could provide additional details Thursday about their planned studies.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Premier Selinger responds to NDP victory in Alberta

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Marc Gallant / Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Weather standup. Sundog. Refraction of light through ice crystals which caused both the sun dog and and fog along McPhillips Road early Wednesday morning. 071205.
  • RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS June 23, 2011 Local - A Monarch butterfly is perched on a flower  in the newly opened Butterfly Garden in Assiniboine Park Thursday morning.

View More Gallery Photos


Will you miss the old Banana Boat building?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google