Flathead, Lake, Mineral, Silver Bow among counties monitoring alcohol offenders 24/7
MISSOULA, MT – As part of a growing, state-wide effort to increase the accountability of drunk drivers and other alcohol-triggered offenders, courts in western Montana have begun using a high-tech, alcohol-sensing anklet, which actually samples your perspiration in order to ensure compliance with court-ordered sobriety.
Known as SCRAM (for Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor), the anklets test offenders for alcohol every 30 minutes, around-the-clock, in order to measure for alcohol consumption. Available in the western part of the state since October of 2008, Kalispell’s Municipal Treatment Court, including the county’s relatively new DUI Court program, began to integrate SCRAM into their offender management program earlier this year. Mineral, Lake and Silver Bow counties are also using the technology on both felony and misdemeanor DUI offenders, as well as domestic violence offenders. Billings courts first began using the technology in 2005. To-date, approximately 600 offenders have been monitored with SCRAM statewide.
Alcohol and Crime: Montana Statistics
According to the Century Council, nearly 6,000 Montana drivers are convicted each year for Driving Under the Influence. Hardcore drunk drivers—defined as those with multiple offenses or driving with a high-level blood alcohol content (BAC)—are a significant issue in Montana. The average BAC for convicted DUI offenders is 0.17—more than twice the legal limit. And more than one-quarter—26 percent—are repeat offenders.
While drunk driving is the single largest substance abuse crime in the country, the alcohol and crime issue goes far beyond DUI. The U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that alcohol offenders represent nearly 40 percent of all convicted offenders, whether they’re in jail, prison or are sentenced to community corrections. An astounding 75 percent of convicted domestic violence offenders were drunk at the time of their offense. According to Stephanie Gregg, program manager for Missoula-based Compliance Monitoring Systems, which manages the SCRAM program in western Montana, courts are finding the technology to be an essential tool as the criminal justice system shifts from simply warehousing and managing offenders to rehabilitating those who struggle with alcohol and drug addiction. “Recidivism rates are astounding for alcohol offenders because the behavior is driven by the addiction,” says Gregg. “The alcohol is the core issue, and the only way to help manage and improve that issue is to use tools that effectively manage the alcohol,” she says.
According to Denver-based Alcohol Monitoring Systems (AMS), which manufactures and markets the SCRAM System, alcohol-fueled offenders are a huge portion of the country’s offender population. “Courts are working to manage both the community safety and the economic impact of these offenders,” says Lou Sugo, vice president of marketing for AMS. “In this economy and this marketplace, it has become economically essential for counties to turn to technology in order to manage the costs of incarceration while also effectively managing, monitoring and rehabilitating these offenders.”
AMS reports that more than 93,000 offenders in 46 states have been monitored with SCRAM since it first became available to the criminal justice system in April of 2003.
About Compliance Monitoring Systems, LLC
Established in 2008, Compliance Monitoring Systems is the exclusive provider of SCRAM in western Montana, including Missoula, Flathead, Lake, Ravalli, Lewis and Clark, Cascade, Jefferson, Granite, Deer Lodge, Silver Bow, Madison and Beaverhead counties. Compliance Monitoring Systems employs three full-time employees and is headquartered in Missoula.
About Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc.
Established in 1997, Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc. manufactures SCRAM®, the world’s only Continuous Alcohol Monitoring system, which uses transdermal analysis to monitor offenders 24/7 for 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. Alcohol Monitoring Systems employs 104 people across the U.S. and is a privately-held company headquartered in Littleton, Colorado.