Berkeley Law Clinics Host First Convening on Electronic Monitoring of Youth

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October 29, 2019

Berkeley Law, University of California

Each day in California, young people are incarcerated for technical violations of the onerous rules of electronic monitoring (GPS)—even though they haven’t committed any crime.

Students are sent away from their schools because principals don’t want to admit students wearing GPS monitoring devices. Young people miss job interviews, family gatherings, team practices, and after-school programs for fear of being caught stepping outside boundaries strictly drawn by their probation officers. And each day, more of them are shackled with GPS tracking devices because of decisions made by adults who see such monitoring as a better alternative to incarcerating children.

Students and advocates at the East Bay Community Law Center (EBCLC) are all too familiar with the cascade of consequences resulting from the use of GPS monitoring in juvenile court. Those consequences include sharp racial disparities, unsuitable conditions for children with disabilities, and cycles of recidivism spurred by technical violations of GPS rules.

“Ultimately, we’d like to eradicate GPS monitoring of youth, but we’re also interested in the pragmatic next step to reform it,” says attorney Cancion Sotorosen, clinical supervisor at EBCLC’s Youth Defender Clinic. “There needs to be greater recognition that GPS is not a panacea to keep kids out of detention, that it’s caused problems no one anticipated, and that now we have to grapple with those.”

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