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Program Profile: Back Door Electronic Monitoring (Sweden)

Evidence Rating: Promising - One study Promising - One study

Date: This profile was posted on July 31, 2017

Program Summary

This program in Sweden involves the use of an ankle bracelet to determine the location of an individual who has been released following a short-term stay in prison. The overall goal is to reduce reoffending rates of participants. The program is rated Promising. Significantly fewer program participants were convicted of a new offense and sentenced to prison at the 3-year follow up, compared with control group participants.

Program Description

Program Goals
Back door electronic monitoring (EM) as an early release program was first introduced in Sweden in 2001. Back door EM in the home involves monitoring an individual’s location using an ankle bracelet, in connection with the individual’s release from a short-term stay in prison (conversely, front door electronic monitoring is when electronic monitoring replaces a short-term stay in prison). The overall goal is to reduce reoffending rates of participants who are released from prison and placed on electronic monitoring.
Target Population
To be eligible for the program, inmates are required to be serving a prison term of at least 2 years and have an occupation and a place to live after release. Additionally, eligible inmates must be below a certain risk threshold for reoffending and substance abuse; in practice, this has translated to not having more than one previous court conviction prior to the current prison term or any history of substance abuse during the 6 months preceding application to the program.
Program Activities
As part of the EM program, clients are required to work or study for a minimum of 4 hours each day (attendance at work is checked by a contact person who informs the prison service if the participant fails to show up). The prison and the probation service provide assistance in finding a job for those who do not have one in place at the time of release.

The primary principle of the EM program is that the participants should spend most of their time (when not at work) at home. Participants are given a schedule/timetable, permitting them to leave the house primarily for work or treatment; this schedule is updated throughout the course of the program, and the prison service monitors clients’ adherence through electronic monitoring (i.e., an alarm will sound when the participant is not at home at the pre-agreed times). Some free time is permitted, as well as time to engage in treatment-related activities or other activities designed to improve a participant’s social situation in some way. Home visits in the evening, twice-weekly breath tests, and urine tests are also used to ensure that clients are not engaging in drug or alcohol use while in the program.

Evaluation Outcomes

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Study 1
Convicted of New Offense
Marklund and Holmberg (2009) found that there was a statistically significant difference favoring the back door electronic monitoring treatment group, compared with the control group on conviction rates. At the 3-year follow up, 26 percent of the treatment group had been convicted of new offenses, compared with 38 percent of the control group. 
New Prison Sentence
There was a statistically significant difference favoring the treatment group, compared with the control group, on new prison sentences. At the 3-year follow up, 14 percent of the treatment group had been convicted of new offenses, compared with 26 percent of the control group.
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Evaluation Methodology

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Study 1
Marklund and Holmberg (2009) conducted a quasi-experimental design to evaluate the back door electronic monitoring (EM) program in Sweden. The intervention group included 260 individuals who had participated in the program from November 2001 to June 2003.

The treatment group was 4 percent female, with an average age of 38 years. Treatment group participants had an average of 1.4 convictions and 3.4 offenses during the prior 5 years. The matched control group had 260 individuals who had been released from prison from May 2001 to April 2002. The control group was 8 percent female and also had an average age of 38 years. Control group participants had an average of 1.5 convictions and 3.1 offenses during the prior 5 years. There were no statistical significant differences between the groups on baseline characteristics.

The control group was constructed retrospectively from prison inmates matched to each of the participants in the program based on two variables: the number of convictions during the 5-year period prior to the current conviction and the predicted reoffending risk within 1 year of release. The predicted reoffending risk was based on a weighted prediction model that included five variables (such as age at release). The control group received business-as-usual services, which meant that most of them had been transferred to an open institution and were allowed to be away from prison on leave for 48 hours every second weekend. It was estimated that one third of them had been prepared for release by being permitted to work outside the prison during the day; however, they had to return to prison after work.

The follow up of the study was 3 years from the inmate’s release date. Reoffending was measured as new convictions and new prison sentences.
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There is no cost information available for this program.
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Other Information

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Marklund and Holmberg (2009) conducted subgroup analyses based on risk level, prior involvement in crime, and age. When looking at study participants by levels of risk for reoffending (low, intermediate, and high), the results showed that 10 percent of the backdoor electronic monitoring (EM) program participants with a low level of risk of reoffending were reconvicted, compared with 24 percent of the low-risk control group (a statistically significant difference). For EM participants with an intermediate risk level, 27 percent were reconvicted, compared with 42 percent of the intermediate-risk control group (also a statistically significant difference). However, there was no statistically significant difference between the high-risk treatment group and control group. Similarly, looking at levels of prior involvement in crime, there was no statistically significant difference in reconvictions for the treatment group, compared with control group participants who had no prior convictions or between participants with more than two prior convictions. However, for those with one to two prior convictions, 24 percent of the treatment group was reconvicted, compared with 43 percent of the control group (a statistically significant difference). Finally, when looking at age, 17 percent of treatment group participants who were older than 37 years were reconvicted, compared with 32 percent of control group participants older than 37 years. But there was no statistically significant difference between the groups for participants 37 years and younger.
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Evidence-Base (Studies Reviewed)

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These sources were used in the development of the program profile:

Study 1
Marklund, Fredrick, and Stina Holmberg. 2009. “Effects of Early Release from Prison Using Electronic Tagging in Sweden.” Journal of Experimental Criminology 5: 41?61.

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Program Snapshot

Gender: Both

Setting (Delivery): Home

Program Type: Aftercare/Reentry, Alternatives to Incarceration, Home Confinement with or without Electronic Monitoring, Electronic Monitoring

Targeted Population: Prisoners

Current Program Status: Active

Listed by Other Directories: National Reentry Resource Center