The tagging and electronic monitoring of offenders is a staple of modern law enforcement, but the technology has its roots in the counter culture of the 1960s.
In the November issue of The Psychologist Robert S. Gable, now Emeritus Professor of Psychology at Claremont Graduate University, California, recalls his ‘Streetcorner Project’ in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in the early 1960s.
Based on positive reinforcement and electronic monitoring, the emphasis was on reward for good behaviour – bonuses such as cash, food or sports tickets were given to participants for attending classes, going to work, being sober etc.
He concludes: “I do not regret the naive enthusiasm of our early experiments. I do regret that so much of contemporary tagging has turned homes into prisons instead of making public spaces into areas of positive excitement.”