Don’t equate inmates with pets

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    Toledo City Councilman Rob Ludeman listens to debate during a council meeting at One Government Center in downtown Toledo.

    The Blade/Katie Rausch
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  • Toledo Councilman Rob Ludeman should avoid comparing the treatment of jail inmates to how we treat dogs and pets.

    Mr. Ludeman made a “suggestion” in a city council hearing on electronic monitoring to introduce the use of microchips with jail inmates to prevent the devices being removed when committing additional crimes.

    RELATED: Toledo councilman suggests using microchips on criminals

    He said during a hearing on a contract for electronic ankle bracelets that implanting microchips in inmates “can’t be inhumane because we do it to our pets.”

    We also humanely kill our pets when their illnesses and injuries are too costly or too advanced to be cured. Let’s hope he doesn’t extend his analogy to end-of-life decisions.

    It’s incumbent on a city councilman to show decorum in the things he says. Mr. Ludeman probably was suggesting an idea that is already under intense evaluation and study somewhere.

    We already attach bracelets with GPS monitoring capability to prisoners. As a medical and safety issue, implantation of radio frequency identification microchips in humans was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2004. Businesses have explored offering the chips to their employees to make it easier for them to open security doors and operate printers, for example.

    The idea of implanting tiny GPS monitors in people who require supervision, be they children or prisoners, can’t be far away from reality, if it isn’t there already.

    In Maryland, a state lawmaker this year proposed legislation to prevent employers and the state government from requiring or coercing anyone to be implanted with an identification device.

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    However, equating pet control with inmate control was an uncomfortable juxtaposition, and is not an appropriate basis for a new technique to be used on prison inmates.

    There are ethical issues to be explored and ethical barriers to be erected. The policy debate should focus on whether it is ethical, safe, and productive, not on whether it would pass muster down at the Toledo Animal Shelter.