Electronic Monitoring

Returning to electronic monitoring, like other forms of racial fixing, its function is to create vertical realities – surveillance and control for some, security and freedom for others.38 Those who are not generally the target of such practices can sleep soundly in the knowledge that such technologies are being used for the greater good, even as they extend the tentacles of incarceration outside jails and prisons and into the most intimate settings of everyday life.

In tracing the connections between electronic monitoring, predictive policing, facial recognition, and more, Malkia Cyril explains that “technology is being used to expand the carceral state, allowing policing and imprisonment to stand in for civil society while seemingly neutral algorithms justify that shift … Digital technologies extend the reach of this structural surveillance, make it persistent for some and nearly invisible to those with enough power to escape its gaze.”39 The shackles that Grace and thousands of other people must wear as a condition of their release are not simply technologies of containment. They are lucrative devices for capitalizing on the misery of others while claiming humanistic concern.

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By making the duplicity and multiplicity of racial fixes visible, those who genuinely seek social justice can avoid falling under the spell of techno-benevolence, for which “revolution” is a marketing catchphrase used to entice investors. In striking contrast, we urgently need what religious studies scholar Eddie Glaude Jr. calls a “revolution of value and radical democractic awakening,” which encompasses traditional areas of public concern – work, health, and education among them – and should also tackle the many discriminatory designs that codify the value gap between Black and White by automating racial habits in digital systems.