DENVER—While many technology companies are feeling the heat from current market conditions, Colorado-based Alcohol Monitoring Systems is preparing to launch what they call a paradigm shift for the corrections marketplace–the first continuous, remote testing system for alcohol addicts and offenders.
SCRAM™–or Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor™–is the first remote alcohol testing system designed to test subjects 24 hours a day, at any location, without any active participation by the subject. Designed specifically for application in parole and probation programs, as well as alcohol rehabilitation, The SCRAM System combines elements of current remote electronic monitoring programs with state-of-the-art tamper and detection technology to deliver what many see as the first real, affordable solution to the problem of alcohol offenders and recidivism.
Renowned Alcohol Testing Expert, Former JD Edwards Executives Bringing SCRAM to Market
“Regardless of the nature of the offense, or in spite of a history of offender recidivism, the courts are only sentencing offenders to abstain from alcohol in about 10% of all cases,” say AMS founder Kirby Phillips. “Our belief, based on multiple conversations with court officers, is that the courts really do want to order alcohol abstinence but have not done so due to a lack of a realistic monitoring solution. SCRAM is going to fundamentally change the way that courts deal with alcohol offense sentencing.” In the 1980s, Phillips developed and marketed the LifeLoc 3000™, the first ignition interlock system for automobiles that is still used by agencies around the country. Phillips left that company in 1992 in search of a solution to what he sees as the problem of effective, remote, long-term monitoring. Working with forensic researchers and scientists from around the US, Phillips founded AMS in 1997 in order to develop and market his vision for a realistic solution.
Phillips brought along key members of his R&D team who have years of experience in alcohol testing, but when it came time to look for investors, Phillips wanted a team who could bring valuable go-to-market experience and a hands-on approach. “We understood the corrections industry and the alcohol testing market, and we wanted to bring in experienced investors who understand what it takes to successfully develop, launch and market a new product,” says Phillips. Colorado native Mike Iiams, now chairman and CEO of AMS, was the first former JD Edwards senior executive to invest in the SCRAM System. Iiams, who left JD Edwards in 1998, has since enlisted a number of his former colleagues, including Commercial Vice President Glenn Tubb, to join the AMS Management Team. “We’ve taken AMS through R&D and exhaustive testing, and we’re now poised to take SCRAM to market and fill what we see as a very significant market need,” says Iiams. “The potential applications for SCRAM, in the corrections marketplace and beyond, are enormous.”
Tubb, who was the senior vice president for product management at JD Edwards, is in charge of the commercial, customer-facing side of AMS. “Bringing large company product release discipline to a much smaller company is exciting, especially when the positive social impact of the products are so obviously important,” says Tubb.
AMS is privately funded through Colorado investors. All R&D, as well as software and hardware manufacturing, takes place in Colorado. AMS currently has 14 employees and will be ramping up their manufacturing, sales and support personnel in the next 60 days.
Three-Part System First to Employ Transcutaneous Testing
SCRAM is a three-part system that includes the SCRAM Bracelet, theSCRAM Modem and the web-based SCRAMNET. The heart of the system is the waterproof, tamper-resistant ankle bracelet, which is the first to utilize the science of transcutaneous testing–or the measurement of Insensible Perspiration that migrates, unnoticed, through the skin–in order to determine a subject’s Blood Alcohol Content (BAC). The SCRAM Bracelet, weighing only 8 ounces, tests the ethanol in Insensible Perspiration–a natural result of alcohol consumption–in order to accurately measure BAC. “A major advantage of the system is that subjects are unaware when testing will take place,” says Tubb. “Subjects don’t have to travel to a testing center, and they can’t manipulate loopholes in testing schedules, ignore a request for testing or even mask a drinking event, which is the fundamental problem with other long-term monitoring programs.”
In addition to the bracelet, the system includes a SCRAM Modem and the secure SCRAMNET. Subjects place the SCRAM Modem in their home. Once or more each day, at a time pre-determined by the monitoring agency, the subject is required to be within range of the SCRAM Modem. Via standard radio frequency, the SCRAM Bracelet transmits all readings since the previous transmission to the modem, and via a secure, private phone line, the data is sent to the SCRAMNET. “Another flaw with current remote technology is the requirement for monitoring staff to remotely confirm each test or the need for costly equipment and IT support,” says Tubb. “SCRAMNET is web-based, and testing requires no supervision. An agency can customize, per offender, how they want to receive notification of alerts or tampers, and the easy-to-use application means subject test results can be accessed at any time. The cost-savings are enormous.”
The SCRAM System can be set up as offender-pay, based on the preferences of the agency. The daily monitoring cost is the same whether a subject is tested once per day or as often as 48 times per day. “With other programs, your costs increase exponentially with the number of daily tests. But once-a-day testing leaves the window wide open for violations. It just doesn’t work in the real world,” says Tubbs. “SCRAM tests continuously for the same daily monitoring fee.”
BETA Testing Seeing Positive Results
AMS began final BETA testing in July with Los Angeles Federal Pretrial Services, the Michigan Department of Corrections and House Arrest Services of Detroit. “We’ve been extensively testing this technology for quite some time, from single, controlled drinking events to long-term monitoring,” says Phillips. “We’re extremely excited about the results. We’re seeing accurate, reliable, tamper-resistant testing across the board.” This final phase is testing full-system implementation into existing programs.
Steve Bock, manager of electronic monitoring center for the Michigan Department of Corrections, has been working with AMS on the BETA program since mid-July. “For the first two weeks, we installed the units on our own officers,” says Bock. “That gave us the chance to become familiar with the system and to test for positives and tampers. We currently have the units installed on live offenders and are monitoring those results.”
“We actually have offenders requesting to be put on the SCRAM System,” says Tubb, who is running the BETA program. “They see a system that will allow them to live a more normal life–maintain work, counseling and family schedules without being required to make daily trips to a testing center, which many programs require for hard core, repeat offenders.”
Alcohol Monitoring Systems will formally launch SCRAM at the American Parole and Probation Association’s annual conference, the 27th Annual Training Institute, August 25-28, 2002, at the Adam’s Mark Hotel in Denver.
AMS Website, E-Newsletter to Provide Program Updates
In addition to the product launch the end of August, AMS launched its website–www.alcoholmonitoring.com. The site, designed to provide product and company information as well as access to information and data on alcohol and crime, legislative updates and statistics, will also offers visitors a vehicle for periodic updates on SCRAM System testing and implementation. Visitors can subscribe to the AMS bimonthly E-newsletter, E-SCRAM, which will offer detailed system implementation news, industry information on drunk driving trends, statistics and legislative agendas, as well as access to key agency contacts in jurisdictions that implement the SCRAM System into their parole and probation programs.
“We don’t want to just be a resource for SCRAM information,” says Tubb, “We want to be a resource for information on alcohol abuse, it’s impact on the corrections industry and offender monitoring. We’ve done a great deal of research into the problem, and both our product and our management team represent decades of experience in this field. We’re a part of this program and we’ve developed this product to meet a very real, very serious need. We want to put our research and our information to work and make it accessible for anyone interested in and committed to the challenge.”
Founded in 1997, Alcohol Monitoring Systems is a Denver-based company dedicated to the development of effective, affordable, real solutions to the problem of alcohol abuse, drunk driving, recidivism and violent crime. The company offers SCRAM the world’s only Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor as one component of a comprehensive program of sanctions and treatment aimed at reducing both the social and financial impacts of alcohol abuse.