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Electronic monitoring can tip the scales in difficult cases

By Mia Clarke, Associate Editor

Electronic monitoring is an important factor that courts consider when deciding whether to grant bail to a person who might otherwise be detained, says Steve Tan, partner with Recovery Science Corporation (RSC).

“When someone knows that their compliance is monitored 24/7, it changes the calculus,” he tells AdvocateDaily.com.

If the wearer knows that violations will be detected and reported to the police, "a person — who might otherwise be considered a risk to violate conditions — is more likely to comply," Tan says. Plus, all breaches are documented, and that evidence can then be used against the person in future hearings.

“So, the shift for the court's analysis is from trusting that a person will not commit a violation, to trusting that a person comprehends the deterrent,” he says.

"RSC has demonstrated a credible, reliable program that can make the difference between pre-trial release and detention in many cases,” Tan says, adding that the proof is in the 600 bails, granted across seven provinces, that were monitored by RSC.

"Without a way of monitoring compliance, prosecutors and courts are often left with the difficult and subjective task of assessing the degree to which the accused can be trusted to comply with release conditions. RSC's programs can help shift that subjectivity into something more objective,” he says.

“First, it changes the standard from a subjective assessment that the accused is likely to honour his or her bail terms, to objective monitoring 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The shift is from attempting to subjectively quantify confidence that a person will not violate their conditions — even though the risk of detection is low — to assessing the impact of them knowing that detection is certain.”

For example, knowing that being late for curfew — or going to a location specifically prohibited by the court — will be detected and reported becomes a powerful motivator to comply with release conditions, says Tan.

“Risk is generally intertwined with the likelihood of detection,” he says. “Speeding is one analogy. Adherence to a posted speed limit can be correlated with how certain detection is. Drivers are less likely to speed in locations where they know police enforcement mechanisms are in place.”

Tan says RSC monitoring "has made the difference" even in cases where the accused has a history of failures to comply with release conditions when not being monitored.

“Electronic monitoring increases the court's confidence that even if an accused has breached conditions in the past — without monitoring — they will be less likely to breach while being monitored,” he says.

“Where a person has taken risks because he calculates the chances of being caught as being low, the monitoring changes the analysis,” says Tan.

"In addition to encouraging compliance with specific conditions, such as curfew or permitted exceptions to a house arrest, GPS monitoring is also a deterrent to a person committing offences where the record of their location would link them to the offence," he says.

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