Continuing Incarceration: Apax Partners’ Digital Shackles

October 3, 2019

Earlier this week, Senator Elizabeth Warren and Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Mark Pocan sent letters to several private equity firms profiting from incarceration and detention.

Apax Partners, which owns electronic monitoring company Attenti, pushed back, insisting its investment is different.

Media coverage:

A new report from the Private Equity Stakeholder Project, “Continuing Incarceration: Apax Partners’ Digital Shackles” takes a closer look at Apax Partners’ investment in Attenti and the growing electronic monitoring industry.

Key points:

  • In October 2017, Apax Partners acquired Attenti from the conglomerate 3M for $200 million.
  • Although it is touted as a humane alternative to incarceration, electronic monitoring is facing growing criticism for prolonging the effects of incarceration. As such, Apax Partners’ investment in Attenti is subject to many of the same risks as other incarceration and detention service companies.
  • Electronic monitoring can make it difficult for someone being monitored to secure a job, which is associated with reducing economic vulnerability and recidivism.
  • Technical glitches with electronic monitoring devices increase the chances of false positive alerts and civil liberty violations.
  • False electronic monitoring alerts and technical failures are not only frequent, but cause law enforcement officers to spend additional time tracking down those they are supervising.
  • People being monitored must often pay the cost of monitoring. According to a Human Rights Watch report, electronic monitoring’s user-funded schemes can be punitive on a scale that dwarfs the other terms of their sentence – often costing individuals $400-$500 a month.
  • A review of scholarly research found that “electronic monitoring of offenders does not have a statistically significant effect on reducing re-offending.” Rather, reducing the intensity of supervision for those on probation or parole is a cost-effective strategy.
  • Like mass incarceration, electronic monitoring disproportionately affects some of the nation’s most vulnerable communities.

(Full report available here)

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