Courts Using Alcohol-Sniffing Anklets to Monitor Offenders 24/7
PASCO, WA—Courts throughout Franklin County are getting tough on the area’s drunk drivers, increasing their use of a high-tech, alcohol-sniffing ankle bracelet that monitors offenders 24/7 for alcohol consumption.
Known as SCRAM (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor), the system includes an ankle bracelet, worn around-the-clock, that actually samples an offender’s perspiration every 30 minutes in order to ensure compliance with court-ordered sobriety. Spokane area courts were the first in the state to begin using the technology back in 2005. Pasco Municipal Court began to integrate SCRAM into their DUI offender supervision programs in January of this year, and the Franklin County District Courts added SCRAM last month. Statewide, 16 counties have monitored just under 2,000 DUI and domestic violence offenders with the system since 2005.
According to Denver-based Alcohol Monitoring Systems (AMS), which manufactures and markets SCRAM nationwide, they’ve seen rapid adoption of the technology, known as Continuous Alcohol Monitoring, since SCRAMlaunched to the corrections market in April of 2003, largely due to what they see as a shift in the way courts and community corrections personnel are addressing the DUI epidemic. “Despite extensive efforts to manage and limit driving habits and incarcerate the repeat, hardcore offenders, nothing to-date has made a dent in the problem,” says Don White, AMS chief operating officer. “Courts and community corrections agencies are really making a shift in focus to what they see as the root cause of the problem, which is the alcohol addiction, not the vehicle,” says White. Mike Miller, vice president of Pasco-based Moon Security Services, which manages the SCRAM program for courts throughout eastern Washington State, agrees. “This technology allows us to actually separate the alcohol from the individual and hold them accountable while they’re also living and working productively in the community,” says Miller. He adds that it’s the 24/7 testing protocol that distinguishes the system from random alcohol testing programs, the primary way DUI offenders were monitored before the SCRAM technology was available. “Alcohol is in and out of your system so quickly that unless you can test someone every few hours, it’s very easy to drink around a random testing schedule. Now we can truly hold them accountable,” he adds.
According to AMS, SCRAM has conducted over 155 million alcohol tests on 74,000 offenders nationwide. More than 1,600 jurisdictions in 46 states currently use SCRAM to monitor alcohol-fueled offenders, including DUI, drug, domestic violence and family court programs.
Alcohol and Crime: Washington State Quick Facts
The Century Council, which monitors and compiles DUI data, reports that in Washington State, 36,500 drivers are arrested for drunk driving each year, and more than one-third (35 percent) are arrested at with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15 or higher, which is twice the legal limit. Beyond drunk driving, the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that 40 percent of those convicted of crimes each year were drunk at the time of the offense, including three in every four cases of domestic violence.
The daily cost for SCRAM averages $12 per day, and all or a significant portion of that cost is paid for by the offender, substantially easing the burden on taxpayers and overburdened county jurisdictions. In eastern Washington State, Moon Security Services funds a sliding scale plan that ensures all clients have access to the technology, so that cost is not a factor when determining eligibility for the program.
About Moon Security Services, Inc.
Moon Security Services, Inc. (MSSI) was founded in 1957, developing into a full-scale residential and commercial security service with the area’s first 24-hour central monitoring station in 1972. Today, MSSI is a full-service security company that provides house arrest and continuous alcohol monitoring to courts and agencies throughout eastern Washington, northeastern Oregon and northern Idaho. Headquartered in Pasco, MSSI employs 175 people, including field offices in Spokane and Wenatchee. MSSI is the exclusive provider of the SCRAM System to courts in Asotin, Benton, Chelan, Clark, Douglas, Franklin, Kittitas, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Spokane, Stevens, Walla Walla and Whitman counties in Washington State and Umatilla and Morrow counties in Oregon. MSSI also provides SCRAM services to Bonner and Kootenai counties in Idaho.
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 99 people across the U.S. and is a privately-held company headquartered in Littleton, Colorado.