CHICKASHA, OK—In an effort to tackle the epidemic of drunk driving and alcohol-fueled crimes, courts throughout southern Oklahoma are using a high-tech, alcohol-sensing anklet to manage and monitor offenders and help counties control the costs of jail overcrowding.
Known as SCRAM (for Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor), the anklets, worn 24/7, actually sample an offender’s perspiration every 30 minutes in order to ensure compliance with court-ordered sobriety. Locally, the drug courts in both Caddo and Grady counties have begun to implement the system into their offender management programs, both as a term of probation and as a condition of bond. Statewide, programs in Stillwater, Tulsa and Oklahoma City have utilized SCRAM since 2004. To-date, nearly 1,400 alcohol offenders have been monitored with SCRAM statewide.
Alcohol and Crime: Oklahoma
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, more than 16,000 drivers are arrested each year for DUI in the state of Oklahoma. On average, 36 percent of those convicted each year for DUI are repeat offenders. 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, which is why states are trending toward intensive monitoring to help tackle the root cause of the issue, which is the addiction. “Nearly 40 percent of those convicted of crimes each year are drunk at the time of their offense, and that number has remained unchanged for decades,” says Don White, COO for AMS. “Courts have recognized that tackling the alcohol issue and ensuring sobriety can have a significant impact in terms of deterring repeat alcohol offenses. With 24/7 monitoring, courts and probation can now do that effectively,” says White.
In 2008, the Pew Center on the States released “One in 100: Behind Bars in America in 2008,” a report highlighting the epidemic growth of incarceration rates and the costs that are paralyzing jurisdictions nationwide. According to the report, alternative sentencing options for nonviolent offenders, including increased use of high-tech monitoring tools, are essential as states and counties struggle to manage an ever-increasing number of offenders. Currently, the average cost per day to house an offender in a county jail in Oklahoma is $44.68, a burden placed on taxpayers and struggling county corrections programs. But according to Garland Terry, director of Motion Works Industrial Rehab, the company that manages the SCRAM Program for courts throughout southwest Oklahoma, alternative sentencing programs make a significant impact on both costs and public safety by providing enhanced accountability and supervision. “SCRAM is $13 a day and it’s paid for by the offender, yet it’s providing around-the-clock accountability for alcohol offenders who otherwise would be drinking and often re-offending,” says Terry. According to the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics, the average recidivism rate for drunk drivers in the U.S. is 36 percent. “Monitoring just 50 offenders for a limited, 90-day period can save a county more than $200,000 a year,” he adds. “But families are safer. Communities are safer. And the courts know exactly what their offenders are doing.”
According to Terry, while the offenders are generally responsible for the daily monitoring fee, they work with the courts case-by-case to ensure everyone has access to the technology. “No one is ever turned away because of cost,” says Terry.
SCRAM was introduced to the criminal justice market in April of 2003. To-date the system has conducted 218 million alcohol tests on just under 88,000 offenders in 46 states. Nearly 1,800 jurisdictions are using the technology on DUI, drug, domestic violence and juvenile offenders. SCRAM is also used as a tool in family court, where proof of sobriety may impact custody or visitation agreements.
About Motionworks Industrial Rehab
Established in 2002, Motionworks is the Oklahoma Department of Transportation-approved collection agency for drug testing. They are the exclusive provider of SCRAM continuous alcohol monitoring technology in Grady, Caddo, Commanche, Stephens, Jefferson and Cotton counties in southwest Oklahoma. Motionworks employs 6 people and is headquartered in Chickasha.
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. Alcohol Monitoring Systems employs 104 people across the U.S. and is a privately-held company headquartered in Littleton, Colorado.