Electronic Monitoring as a resource for an up to date prison management

During the last twelve years in the Austrian prison system a sometimes considerable prison overcrowding was to be observed. Above all this affects the inmates, but also prison staff. Considering these conditions, aggravated by a lack of resources it appears difficult to fulfil the mandate of the prison system and to ensure security. Prison management as well as risk management become particularly important in situations like this.

In September of 2010 Electronic Monitoring in connection with house arrest was introduced as a way of serving a prison sentence or part of a sentence. Thereby the electronic tag became a tool for prison management as well as for risk management. Although the number of people with electronic tags remained behind expectations so far, its use and its meaning for prison management are believed to have a potential for expansion. Based on experiences and results up to now an expansion of Electronic Monitoring is believed to provide chances for positive effects on several sides: Improvement of the overcrowding in prisons; thereby resources may become available for qualitative improvements in the prison system, particularly for the prisoners; improvement of options with respect to prison management as well as risk management; house arrest with Electronic Monitoring means serving a sentence closer to freedom and closer to the outside world, which is believed to have positive effects with respect to integration, without reducing levels of security of the general society.

Deliberations with respect to an expansion however ask for up to date, evidence based knowledge, which reflects on current practice and results. Such a knowledge which could feed into planning does not exist so far. In fact, the alleged or possible positive effects of Electronic Monitoring may not prove true when evaluated.

Aims and innovative content: Considering this the research aims at,

  • elaborating up to date, evidence based knowledge on qualities, chances, demands, conditions, limits as well as risks related to Electronic Monitoring and its expansion;
  • studying Electronic Monitoring especially also as a tool or resource of an up to date prison management. Thereby the prison system as a whole will be considered.

Intended outcomes and findings: Immediate outcomes of the project will be reports on the work packages, which will contribute to the final findings feeding in the following perspectives and information: quantitative data on Electronic Monitoring in practice; international research outcomes as well as practical experiences from other European countries; client-centred insights; views of experts by practice.

The merging of these parts is supposed to finally create well-founded insights and recommendations which will be relevant for planning and developments. It will be a final part of the project to share these findings with practitioners.

The project is funded by the Austrian Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology within the Austrian Security Research Programme KIRAS.


Further Partners: Bundeministerium für Verfassung, Reformen, Deregulierung und Justiz

Project Period

November 2017 bis Februar 2019

Project Leader

Walter Hammerschick

Executive Director

Project Members

Veronika Hofinger

Scientific Management