FRESNO, CA—Courts and corrections agencies in six California counties are adding a high-tech, alcohol-sniffing ankle bracelet to their probation programs in order to improve the management and continuous monitoring of some of the state’s highest-risk, repeat drunk drivers.
Fresno, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Sacramento and Yolo Counties now have access to a high-tech tool called SCRAM®, the Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor. The system includes an ankle bracelet that offenders wear 24 × 7 in order to detect alcohol consumption. Termed Continuous Alcohol Monitoring, the system uses noninvasive transdermal analysis to automatically and continuously monitor the sweat of problem drinkers, enforcing compliance with court-ordered sobriety and enhancing treatment outcomes. The SCRAM System is currently in use in 41 states, including programs in Los Angeles, San Francisco and Orange County, and it’s monitored more than 35,000 offenders since it first became available in April of 2003.
According to Alcohol Monitoring Systems (AMS), a Denver-based company that manufactures and markets SCRAM, Continuous Alcohol Monitoring means that offenders can no longer drink around testing schedules and get away with it. “The repeat alcohol offender cycle isn’t just costly in terms of money, it’s also a high risk for local communities,” says Don White, vice president of Field Operations for AMS. “Because SCRAM monitors high-risk offenders continuously throughout their court-mandated sentences, it offers an unprecedented level of accountability. Once the bracelet is locked on an offender’s ankle, most think long and hard before drinking. It’s a powerful deterrent.”
Alcohol and Crime: The California Picture
According to The Century Council, which publishes DUI arrest and conviction data, there are more than 183,000 DUI arrests every year in California. Of those convicted, 58 percent were driving with a blood alcohol concentration of more than .15, or twice the legal limit. More than one-third are convicted as repeat drunk drivers. “The numbers are staggering,” says Scott Denson, president of Watch Guard, which will be managing the SCRAM Program in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties. “If you can effectively monitor offenders for alcohol consumption, then you can really begin to tackle the alcohol abuse problem and help stop the cycle of drinking and re-offending,” says Denson.
AMS is partnering with three California-based companies in order to expand its delivery of SCRAM throughout the state. While Watch Guard will be servicing Santa Barbara and Ventura counties, CMG Tracking, based in Fullerton, will service Fresno and San Bernardino counties, and Terra Nova Counseling will provide the technology to Yolo and Sacramento Counties. The SCRAM technology has been available in California since its launch in 2003, with localized programs in place in areas such as Orange County and the Bay Area. In 2006, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office began using SCRAM through Los Angeles-based Vigilnet of California. To-date, SCRAM has monitored nearly 1,400 offenders in California.
According to White, even though SCRAM has made significant inroads across the nation, a partnership with these California-based companies is essential in order to effectively manage the programs. “These are very competent, highly regarded service providers that specialize in managing alcohol-related offenders within their local communities. They’re essential for effectively delivering this type of technology and helping us meet the specific needs of these varying courts and programs,” says White.
Jim Long, program coordinator for Terra Nova Counseling, based in Sacramento, agrees. “Our customers are responding very positively toSCRAM, and we expect considerable growth in SCRAM usage within Sacramento and Yolo Counties. This technology is gaining momentum every day because judges are looking for a better way to effectively monitor compliance and increase public safety,” says Long.
About CMG Tracking
CMG Tracking delivers alternative sentencing options, including GPS, RF Electronic Monitoring, and SCRAM. Established in 2006, CMG Tracking is based in Fullerton and has offices throughout California. CMG provides SCRAM technology to Fresno and San Bernardino Counties.
About Terra Nova Counseling
Founded in 1985, Terra Nova Counseling is a §501©(3) nonprofit corporation providing a variety of counseling and related services to children, juveniles, and adults. Terra Nova serves the community through individual, group and family counseling, as well as substance abuse counseling, DUI classes and other services. Terra Nova employs over 60 therapists and other professionals, and its headquarters and two satellite offices are based in Sacramento. Terra Nova will manage SCRAM Programs for Sacramento and Yolo Counties.
About Watch Guard
Ventura, CA-based Watch Guard is a sister company to Ignition Lockout,LLC, a leading provider of LifeSafer ignition interlock technology since 1992. Watch Guard was established in order to market and manage the SCRAMContinuous Alcohol Monitoring Program throughout Santa Barbara and Ventura Counties.
About Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc.
Established in 1997, Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc. manufactures SCRAM®, the world’s only continuous alcohol testing system that uses 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. Alcohol Monitoring Systems employs 52 people across the U.S. and is a privately-held company headquartered in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.