FECL 21 (December 1993/January 1994):


The Swedish Ministry of Justice intends to introduce electronic surveillance of certain categories of delinquents. Instead of sentencing to prison detention, courts shall have the possibility to order delinquents to carry an electronic transmittor enabling a 24 hours per day control of there whereabouts. The elcectronic device has been developed in the USA, where an estimate 40,000 persons are at present submitted to this modern form of surveillance. The introduction of the system in Sweden is controversial.

Test runs with the device are to be carried out beginning with 1 April 1994 in four cities and, at a first stage, only persons already snetenced to short prison terms will be equipped with the "electronic buoy". Thus the test will not provide any answer to the controversial question whether electronic surveillance as a punishment will increase or decrease the average level of punishment.

Critics of the device believe it constitutes a further step towards a society where "Big Brother is watching you". But its advocates point at the enormous costs resulting from locking up a graduously growing number of delinquents.

The primary aim of the Swedish test is to establish whether criminal courts shall in future have the possibility of sentencing delinquents to intensive elecronic surveillance instead of imprisonment. Members in the parliamentary committee on the penal system seem to agree that the "electronic buoy" should be introduced, but the question is how. The system can lead to both a higher or a lower general level of punishment.

In the USA, courts order electronic surveillance not only as an alternative to detention but also for delinquents freed on probation.

[Critics are of the opinion that this is an additional punishment that raises the average level of punishment. They fear that the introduction of the system in Sweden will be just one more among a series of measures advocated by the conservative Minister of Justice, Mrs. Gun Hellsvik, which all appear to aim at adapting the country's comparatively liberal penitentiary system to more repressive European standards].


Source: Dagens Nyheter, 7.10.93