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Ministry eyes ‘intelligent’ electronic tags to deter crimes

The Justice Ministry plans to outfit criminals with “intelligent” electronic anklets to monitor them in real time and deter future crimes as part of a pilot program beginning in 2018, it said Tuesday.

The Intelligent Electronic Monitoring System will track wearers and collect more data about them, which ministry officials said will be used to anticipate and deter repeat crimes.

South Korea requires sexual abusers, kidnappers, murderers and other criminals to wear electronic devices that track their locations. However, the effectiveness of the current monitoring system introduced in 2008 has been questioned in recent years, as there have been numerous cases in which the wearers either broke or damaged the anklet, and reoffended.

The new controlling devices will focus on the prevention of crimes, the ministry said.
A Justice Ministry displays different models of electronic monitoring anklets that have been used since 2008 at the ministry’s head office in Seoul on Oct. 20. (Yonhap)
A Justice Ministry displays different models of electronic monitoring anklets that have been used since 2008 at the ministry’s head office in Seoul on Oct. 20. (Yonhap)
The new anklet, which is still being developed, will collect data about wearers and their surrounding environment, location and biometrics such as heartbeat and body temperature. This will be sent in real-time to a central control center.

The center will then analyze the information based on past criminal techniques and their movement patterns to predict the risk of the ex-convict committing another crime.

“We are currently at the stage of testing a number of sample anklets,” an authority from the ministry said. “We are now trying to raise the accuracy of the predictions.”

The new device is also designed to be made with new, harder-to-break materials, the ministry said. “The department will come up with a new material to strengthen the durability of the device.”

The justice body first used medical silicon for the anklet band in 2008 and added thin stainless metal after several cases of abuse occurred.

As of May this year, the number of anklet-wearing criminals stands at 2,501, a big rise from 151 in the first year of its introduction.

A man with a handmade gun cut off his electronic monitoring bracelet and killed a policeman near Opaesan in northern Seoul on Sept. 19, while a 37-year-old man surnamed Seo was arrested after breaking off his anklet on the same day and running away to Seonyudo, an island in North Jeolla Province. 

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)
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