The Department of Probation, in the Ministry of Social Development, is currently experimenting on the necessity and effectiveness of GPS/ satellite -monitoring ankle bracelets, or Finnex shackles, to trace the movement of certain persons placed on probation and required to wear the electronic gadgets.
Mr. Ryan Clarke, of Finnex Global Technologies, has been in Anguilla several days ago working with the Department of Probation and training personnel in the fitting and operation of the ankle bracelets. His visit was a follow-up to a training session he held in St. Maarten at which the Department of Probation in Anguilla was represented.
Ms. Joycelyn Johnson, the Department’s Chief Probation Officer, spoke to The Anguillian about the monitoring ankle bracelets: “At the offering of Mr. Ryan Clarke, of Finnex Global Technologies, we have taken the opportunity to do a test of electronic monitoring. Mr. Lynch, Senior Probation Officer, and I visited St. Maarten to look at what they are doing with regards to electronic monitoring. Mr. Clarke, having been in St. Maarten, extended an offer to us to run a test for the next two to three weeks, compliments of his company, so that we can better understand what the offering is, as we consider electronic monitoring for ourselves.”
Ms. Johnson explained that her Department had embarked on electronic monitoring for convicted persons on probation, but that the systems were unsuccessful. “Primarily it is now a challenge with regards to the financing,” she said. “Nonetheless, we are keen to see what Finnex Global Technologies has to offer and to explore opportunities for a formal pilot p
roject; to see how we can test the product in terms of the limitations…and present a more informed proposal for funding and the introduction of the programme in Anguilla.”
The Anguillian asked Ms. Johnson about the usefulness of the ankle bracelets. “It is important on a number of levels in terms of the better and proper management of offenders – and also in terms of the safety and security of our probation officers,” she responded. “Currently, we conduct curfew checks weekly but that is not a 24/7 supervision of offenders. When we do curfew checks, offenders are often not at home and we get reports of their sightings in different places. However, this electronic monitoring programme, if and when implemented, will provide 24/7 coverage. It is quite labour intensive for our probation officers to be conducting checks after hours. In addition, one has to consider the changing nature, culture and increasing violence in the Anguillian community with regards to safety of staff members – as they are out at night on the highways and byways monitoring probationers.”
Ms. Johnson made the point that only certain persons on probation would be required to wear the ankle bracelets based on the offences and on recommendations made to the Magistrate’s Court.
Meanwhile, Mr. Clarke, the technical official working with the Probation Department, told The Anguillian: “Finnex Global Technologies is responsible for criminal justice solutions, creating policies for members around the world. Our system works using…a GPS/ satellite device which gives the location of an offender. It has different features. For example, if you are trying to break or cut it, this generates an alerting system so we can know what is happening every couple of seconds with the device and the person wearing it.”
He explained that this year his company would be bringing out a monitoring device to provide checks on persons for drugs and alcohol. He said various Caribbean islands, including the Dominican Republic were involved in probation monitoring systems. In the Dominican Republic alone two thousand ankle bracelets will be launched this year. Other places where the systems are in place include Puerto Rico, various Latin American and other countries.
Mr. Clarke added: “The Head Office for Finnex Global Technologies is in Panama, but I have a regional office. My role is the Executive Regional Director for the entire Caribbean and for Research and Development. I am also responsible for sales and programming of the devices to ensure that when they come off the production line they do what they are supposed to do before ending up in the hands of clients.” Mr. Clarke is based in Barbados, but travels extensively.