New Virtual Probation Technology Helps Curb Coronavirus Spread
Many people are currently working remotely from home to curb the spread of the Coronavirus, using new and existing cloud-based technologies to facilitate daily work-related tasks. But how do you use remote work-related technologies if your business is probation supervision, which historically centers on interpersonal interactions? Dale Allen, Chief Probation Officer with the Athens-Clarke County Probation Services in Georgia, understood the value of remote supervision resources as an enhancement to probation services, and thus started down the implementation path long before COVID-19 emerged.
Dale, who has an extensive military and court services background, prides himself on being an early adopter of new technologies. It is his love for new technology and extensive contacts in law enforcement and court services which made him the perfect candidate for eRAMx’s virtual supervision software pilot program. Under the pilot program, which began a year ago, Dale’s 17 field officers were able to couple field visits with virtual supervision services for some 1,500 subjects participating in various probations programs ranging from pre-trial diversion, to bond cases, to accountability courts.
eRAMx’s remote accountability monitoring platform allows court services agencies like Dales’ to monitor medication treatment, drug or alcohol abstinence and virtual field supervision, including the ability to observe the subject’s environment. This remote monitoring is made possible all through an app that the subject downloads to their iPhone or Android device.
How Remote Accountability Monitoring Works
Court agencies using the platform first create a participant record on the backend of the app. The subject then downloads the app, giving necessary permissions for the platform to access their device’s front and back cameras, notifications, microphone and GPS coordinates. After the subject downloads the app, the officer pairs their device with the participant’s record on the backend through an exchange of device IDs. The process is fast. On the backend, the officer can schedule and initiate virtual supervisory meetings with the subject. eRAMx even supplies participants with a kickstand to cradle their phone for hands-free meetings. This is particularly helpful if the officer needs to oversee medication consumption or an oral fluid drug test or even perform a visual eye inspection.
Subjects participating in medication assisted treatment programs are also provided with their medications in blister packs. During the eRAMx virtual supervision session, the officer would provide step-by-step instructions to the subject and monitor compliance through the devices camera. The same is experienced during a virtual oral fluid drug test. The subject must perform all requested actions in view of the camera. Any action taken out of the camera’s view is considered uncompliant. The officer can mark each session as compliant or non-compliant, and capture vital session notes.
The officer can also take screen shots of the subject as they consume medication or take the drug test or perform a visual eye inspection. That’s what separates eRAMx from platforms like Skype or Zoom. eRAMx allows the officer to collect and store virtual supervision data as part of the subject’s probation record. This patented technology offers a level of accountability which can be audited and used in a court of law.
“Using the data collected during an eRAMx session, I am more confident in presenting a violation case to a judge that I wouldn’t have by using other telecommunication platforms”, says Dale. He continues, “through the app, I can have the subject take their medication in my viewing or walk around their home and show me the contents of their refrigerator or cabinets or take an oral fluid drug test, all while collecting vital image data.”
Who’s On Board
Currently Georgia is leading other states in adoption. Jeff Milner, Sr. VP of eRAMx, “we officially launched our platform in January of 2020 with good success. By March and amid the U.S. outbreak of COVID-19 we have seen even more inquiries as more states consider this technology as a means of keeping officers safe.” According to Jeff, interest in the platform is also emerging from mental health and substance abuse treatment professionals as a way to virtually connect and provide treatment services to their patients.
The platform’s uses are limitless as more and more professionals who traditionally provide in-person services seek virtual technology environments as a new means to an end.