King County one of 31 Washington counties using 24/7 alcohol monitors on drunk drivers.
SEATTLE—When the Federal Probation and Pretrial Officers Association (FPPOA) meets this week in Seattle, attendees from Washington and across the U.S. will be taking a look at one of the fastest-growing technologies in law enforcement: An alcohol-sensing ankle bracelet that actually tests your sweat to see if you’ve been drinking.
The technology is called SCRAM (for Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor), and it includes an anklet, worn 24/7, that samples an offender’s perspiration, every 30 minutes, in order to determine whether they’ve been drinking. SCRAM is currently used in 46 states to monitor DUI, domestic violence and other alcohol offenders, both as a condition of probation or parole and as a condition of bond. Notably, the system has seen a substantial increase in usage in 2009 as jurisdictions struggling to manage shrinking budgets employ more high-tech monitoring in lieu of the exorbitant costs of incarceration.
Washington state has used the technology since 2003, when courts in the Spokane area first began to utilize the system. To-date, nearly 2,500 offenders have been monitored statewide. More than 500 have been monitored in King, Snohomish and surrounding counties. SCRAM, along with other law enforcement tools, will be on exhibit this week at the FPPOA National Training Institute 2009, running April 5–7 at the Seattle Sheraton Hotel.
Alcohol and Jail Overcrowding: Washington State
According to The Century Council, Washington State has more than 37,300DUI arrests each year. Two-thirds of the state’s alcohol-related fatalities are committed by drivers with a Blood Alcohol Concentration of .15 or above, which is nearly twice the legal limit.
Last year the Pew Center on the States released One in 100: Behind Bars in the U.S. in 2008, a report that addresses the extraordinary costs of incarceration that are literally paralyzing state and county jurisdictions across the country. And more than 80 percent of those in county jails are often incarcerated pretrial, at an average cost of $64 per day, awaiting adjudication of their case.“Alcohol offenders are clogging court dockets and putting an extraordinary burden on jurisdictions across the country,” says Lou Sugo, vice president of marketing for Denver-based Alcohol Monitoring Systems (AMS), which manufactures and markets the SCRAM System. “Three out of every four cases of domestic violence involve alcohol. Drunk drivers drive intoxicated an average of 300 times before they’re ever arrested. More than 36 percent of adult offenders under correctional supervision were drinking at the time of their offense,” says Sugo. “SCRAM and other electronic monitoring technologies are seen as a way to drive significant and immediate cost-savings to struggling counties,” he adds. SCRAM averages $10 to $12 per day, and all or a significant portion of that fee is often paid for by the offender.
About Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc.
Established in 1997, Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc. manufactures SCRAM®, the world’s only Continuous Alcohol Monitoring system, which uses non-invasive transdermal analysis to monitor alcohol consumption.SCRAM fully automates the alcohol testing and reporting process, providing courts and community corrections agencies with the ability to continuously monitor alcohol offenders, increase offender accountability and assess compliance with sentencing requirements and treatment guidelines. Available since 2003, SCRAM has conducted 255 million alcohol tests on 93,800 offenders in 46 states. Alcohol Monitoring Systems employs 104 people across the U.S. and is a privately-held company headquartered in Littleton, Colorado.