South Carolina using high-tech anklets to ease jail overcrowding
MYRTLE BEACH, SC—When the American Probation and Parole Association hosts its national Winter Training Institute in Myrtle Beach this week, probation and parole executives from 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 product, called SCRAM (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor), includes an anklet, worn 24/7, that samples an offender’s perspiration, every 30 minutes, in order to determine whether they’ve been drinking. While home arrest and GPS systems monitor and limit an offender’s location, SCRAM is currently used in 46 states, including limited use in South Carolina, to monitor DUI, domestic violence and other alcohol-involved offenders to ensure compliance with court-ordered sobriety. SCRAM, as well as a number of high-tech electronic monitoring tools, will be on display this week at the APPA2009 Winter Training Institute, running February 8–11 at the Kingston Plantation in Myrtle Beach.
Alcohol and Jail Overcrowding: South Carolina
In South Carolina, the Spartanburg County Detention Facility has utilized SCRAM technology since May of 2007 as part of a comprehensive initiative aimed at managing jail overcrowding and the exorbitant costs associated with incarceration. To-date the facility has used SCRAM to monitor 104 offenders for a total of more than 10,000 monitored days. While the taxpayers pay the average of $38.50 it costs per day to house an inmate in the Spartanburg facility, for those offenders on home detention programs, including SCRAMmonitoring, they are responsible for their daily monitoring fees and all expenses. In the last 21 months, taxpayers have saved more than $393,000 just on offenders monitored with SCRAM. The program, which costs offenders $12 per day, is monitoring clients with a wide range of offenses, including DUI, domestic violence, family court cases, drug offenders, and others where alcohol is determined to be a contributing factor to their offense.
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. “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. “Recidivism rates are staggering for alcohol offenders, and managing the alcohol misuse is the only way to make a dent in the problem.”
AMS anticipates increased utilization of the SCRAM technology in South Carolina in 2009, citing the extreme financial burden counties are now under during the economic crisis as a contributing factor. “Counties are recognizing that technology solutions are really the only way to effectively manage the number of offenders in the system while also cutting the expenditures and the burdens placed on local budgets,” says Sugo.
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 217 million alcohol tests on 88,000 offenders in 46 states. Alcohol Monitoring Systems employs 104 people across the U.S. and is a privately-held company headquartered in Littleton, Colorado.