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.