Innovative Criminal & Family Law Programs
At Recovery Science, founding partners Stephen Tan and Peter Marshall have used their understanding of electronic monitoring technologies and Canadian legal processes to build innovative criminal and family law programs.
The initial concept arose from Peter’s child protection law practice. His search for better ways for parents facing allegations of alcohol abuse to address those allegations, and minimize restrictions on their parenting while they did so, led to the development of our alcohol monitoring program for family and child protection cases. Those in the criminal justice system immediately saw the application of our concepts for bail and we responded by adapting our program to the needs of the criminal process and adding location monitoring technologies.
Our Criminal Law Background
In criminal law, our first case came in June 2010, when counsel for a young man in Parry Sound, Ontario foresaw that his client was not likely to be granted bail due to his record of offences, most of which were alcohol-related. The young man and his counsel took the innovative step of proposing in a bail review that, as part of his plan of release, the accused would participate in Recovery Science’s continuous alcohol monitoring program. The Ontario Superior Court of Justice agreed that, with the monitoring, the man’s plan met the legal tests for being granted bail. Since then, over 700 people who would otherwise have been detained while awaiting trial have successfully proposed a plan of release that included alcohol and/or location monitoring by Recovery Science.
Rooted in Family Law
The roots of our programs are in family and child protection law. In Ontario in 2009, the standard response to claims that a parent had an alcohol problem was to require them to submit to hair strand testing by the now discredited Motherisk program. While we now know about all of the serious flaws of that program’s methods and its tragic results, even when done to a forensic gold standard, hair testing has serious limitations. To get better results for parents facing long periods of restricted access with their children while waiting for hair test results, Recovery Science created a program that adapted the way the SCRAM continuous alcohol monitoring technology was being used with impaired drivers in the United States to meet the risk management concerns and information requirements of children’s aid societies, courts, and opposing parents. The resulting stories we’ve been a part of speak for themselves: parents on the verge of an expensive trial able to agree on unsupervised access; children’s aid societies deciding that with alcohol monitoring, an apprehension could be avoided and children could be returned to a parent’s care; a father in denial about the extent of his drinking, when seeing his own 24/7 monitoring data, agreeing he had a problem and going for treatment; a condition being lifted to permit a new mother to breastfeed her baby.
The common element in our programs is that we recognize how to use monitoring technologies, not just for “catching” people being non-compliant, but as tools for providing timely and relevant information, and using that information flow to help manage risk in ways that are less restrictive than supervised access or incarceration, help support and prove compliance, and give parties who are otherwise entrenched in opposing positions a way forward.