Alcohol sensing anklets driving down costs, recidivism
RIVERSIDE, CALIF—A newly released study of DUI offender data in Riverside County shows that Hard Core Drunk Drivers (HCDDs) who were monitored with 24/7 alcohol bracelets saw a re-arrest rate of nearly one-half the state average for repeat DUI offenders.
Conducted by LCA, a San Francisco-based private criminal justice organization, the study looked at California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) data for all Riverside County offenders who were court-ordered to aCAM (Continuous Alcohol Monitoring) program using SCRAMx (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor) equipment. The study tracked DMVdata for 22 months following release from the program. The rate of any DUI incidents during this 22-month period was only 6.5% — 41% lower than the state average for repeat DUI offenders, according to the 2011 California DMV’s annual report to the state legislature. According to the DMV, the average re-arrest rate for repeat DUI offenders for the two years after a prior conviction was at least 11%, depending on the number of previous offenses (the higher the number of previous DUIs, the higher the rate of re-offense).
According to Linda Connelly, president of LCA and a 26-year veteran of offender electronic monitoring programs, LCA initiated the study in order to gain an empirical understanding of the longer-term impact of CAM on DUI rates. This is of particular importance as California enters into the era of AB109 realignment which mandates evidence-based alternative confinement options for non-violent offenders, in an effort to reduce staggering state budget deficits, high recidivism rates and an overcrowded prison system. DUI offenses fall under the definitions in AB109. “Utilizing CAM is undoubtedly showing positive results in our community, changing the long-term outcomes for drunk drivers,” says Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone. “This type of technology is going to play an important role in the re-alignment of offender management from the state parole system to local governments,” he adds.
The majority of CAM programs are provided to offenders at no cost to the county or taxpayers. With the exception of a small indigent fund provided by Riverside County, participants in this study paid the cost of SCRAMx on a sliding scale based on their ability to pay. According to Connelly, if you look at this study group as a model for assessing the financial impact of using CAM in lieu of incarceration, more than $2.1 million could be saved on a similar size program by saving taxpayers the $129 a day it would have cost to incarcerate the offender for an average of 109 days each. “CAM technology has been under-utilized throughout California, but the budgetary savings when these technologies are fully utilized can be substantial,” says Connelly. “And that doesn’t even account for the long-term savings in lives, which cannot be calculated,” she adds.
According to The Century Council, 98% of HCDDs have a personal history of alcohol abuse and account for 70% of alcohol-related traffic fatalities. These drivers are defined as offenders who have had a repeat DUI arrest in the last 3 years or are arrested with a high BAC (exceeding .015, nearly twice the legal limit). HCDDs comprise 40% of all DUI convictions each year. “It is well known that an alcoholic’s criminal behavior is driven substantially by their alcohol misuse,” says Connelly. “Proven technology applications and treatment are the most effective way for our state’s criminal justice system to slash costs while effectively supervising and changing criminal behavior. Incarceration alone has never worked to curtail an alcoholic’s behavior, and that has had a serious impact on public safety.”
Throughout California SCRAMx has monitored more than 7,000 offenders since 2003. In the U.S., SCRAMx has monitored 200,000 offenders. Nearly 80% of these offenders were HCDDs.
LCA is California’s leading provider of Electronic Monitoring and offender management solutions. Supporting criminal justice and behavioral health agencies since 1991, LCA’s services include CAM, GPS, curfew monitoring and home detention; comprehensive case management; medically impaired and out-of-county monitoring options; residential, non-residential and day reporting programs; and offender management consulting services. Headquartered in San Francisco, California, LCA has 9 regional offices throughout the state.
About Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc. (AMS)
Established in 1997, AMS is the world’s largest provider of Continuous Alcohol Monitoring (CAM) technology. AMS manufactures SCRAMx, which uses non-invasive transdermal analysis to monitor alcohol consumption and integrates home detention monitoring into a single anklet. SCRAMx 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. AMS employs 126 people across the U.S. and is a privately-held company headquartered in Littleton, Colorado.