BusinessEditorial

Electronic Monitoring and Jay Z

Using house arrest has long been used as a means to quell political resistance. By confining people to their homes, repressive governments are able to weaken an oppositional figure’s ties to the world, while allowing the authorities to know where the confined person is at every moment. But what does electronic monitoring have to do with the rapper Jay Z?

With the rise of new technologies, such as electronic monitoring, has allowed the practice of home arrest to become widespread. Nowadays, if you’re under house arrest, there are no longer armed guards circling the premises. Instead, the “guards” are satellites, their gaze always present, and they don’t even blink. That’s the value of a good criminal defense attorney.

Electronic Monitoring

Electronic monitoring was introduced as a means to keep people under supervision, electronically. Ironically this happened in 1984. Since 1984 hen, it has been used for an ever-expanding range of purposes, including pretrial confinement, parole, and probation, or simply as a punishment in and of itself. Monitoring has put new populations under state control, expanding the range of people who are confined in this country. According to an analysis in the Journal of Law and Policy, most of those placed on electronic monitors haven’t committed serious or violent offenses and, were it not for monitoring, “at least some of these populations would not, in fact, be incarcerated or otherwise under physical control.”

But What Does GPS and Electronic Monitoring Have to Do With Jay Z?

Enter Jay Z and Promise

Promise is a technology/software design company that sells apps that help government agencies track people who are released from jail under the First Step Act.

The program is a startup that raised $3 million earlier this year with participation, again we have to highlight the word participation from Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, 8VC and Kapor Capital. In 2018, Jay Z wrote an op-ed about the bail industry and how every year well over $9 billion is spent incarcerating individuals who have not been convicted of crimes. We call that kidnaping and caging in the Libertarian world. That’s the value of a good criminal defense attorney.

“Money, time and lives are wasted with the current policies. It’s time for an innovative and progressive technology that offers sustainable solutions to tough problems.” – Jay-Z

The startups team, which is led by co-founder and CEO Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, is building an app that can help provide the opportunity to be free while awaiting trial, or even after being convicted of a crime.

An Incarceration Alternative

The company’s product is to be known as “an incarceration alternative”. The technology replaces home confinement and ankle monitoring with a smartphone app to track “participants” and remind them when they’re supposed to appear in court or take a urine drug test. This alternative is also bound to be less expensive to maintain than the $15-$40 a day that individuals that are unfortunate enough to be on house arrest are required to pay.

One of the controversial aspects of the Promise team is that the company consists of mostly white males who are led by its biracial founder, CEO Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins. Ellis-Lamkins responded to her critics on Twitter who have accused her and Mr. Carter (Jay-Z) of profiting from GPS monitoring by making clear that her company does not make ankle monitoring devices, the report states.

Promise advocates for releasing non-violent petty criminals so that the company can profit by monitoring the offenders for government agencies. That means that the government can pay Promise to “monitor compliance with court orders and better keep tabs on people via the app and if needed, GPS monitoring devices.” In a world where the job of a corporation is to make money, I’d say that Promise is doing a bang up of a job.

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