ACLU-PA Position: Opposes
HB 2344 would amend both Title 61 to authorize state parole agents to use body cameras and the Wiretap Act to exempt parole agents from restrictions on recording oral communications.
The ACLU-PA typically supports body-worn cameras for law enforcement officers, as long as there are reasonable guarantees of transparency and accountability and safeguards against unnecessary privacy intrusions. But unlike police officers, whose body cameras mostly capture interactions that occur in public, conversations between parole agents and their clients are confidential. As such, footage captured by parole agents would do nothing to increase transparency, since any disclosure would likely need a subpoena to release the footage.
More importantly, parole agents are not law enforcement officers. They supervise people released from prison, and in that role, they routinely enter people’s homes without permission. Unlike police, parole agents do not need probable cause or a warrant to enter a home or search a person they are supervising. If parole agents enter a home wearing a body camera, then the person under supervision AND any other third person residing in or even visiting the home would be subject to video surveillance every time a parole agent enters. In other words, this would include recording those not under supervision—children or other family members, a partner, roommate, friend—and/or recording their property or other belongings.
Equipping parole agents, who are not law enforcement officers, with such a powerful and invasive tool raises serious privacy, surveillance, and Fourth Amendment concerns.
Check the bill's status here.