Puerto Rico, King County (WA) Extend Offender Monitoring Contracts

Late last year, both Puerto Rico and King County, Washington (home of Seattle) decided to extend their long-running outsourcing contracts for offender monitoring services. Under the agreements, BI Incorporated will provide a variety of electronic monitoring services and technology, including monitoring systems (integrating ankle bracelets, receivers placed in offenders’ homes, and a host monitoring computer), an online offender database (for scheduling and other data) and 24/7 national monitoring center support.

At a time when budget cuts and prison capacity constraints are prompting public officials to explore ways to do more with less in corrections, privatized offender monitoring and community-based corrections services offer a real solution. They offer a way to save tax dollars while providing alternatives to detention and viable approaches to “right-sizing” the corrections system (e.g., lower-risk offenders in community-based care; higher-risk inmates in prison beds). For example, in 2004 the Illinois Department of Corrections contracted out the operation of eight re-entry centers for high-risk parolees and electonic monitoring services for nearly 3,000 offenders. Since the privatization, the three-year average recidivism rate in Illinois has dropped to 51.8%, having spiked to 54.6% prior to the privatization. Hundreds of other state and local governments have embraced the outsourcing of community corrections services to achieve similar results, a trend that’s likely to continue.

Reason Foundation’s Annual Privatization Report 2009
Reason Foundation’s Corrections Research and Commentary

Leonard Gilroy is vice president of government reform at Reason Foundation and senior managing director of Reason's Pension Integrity Project.