HILLSBORO, MO—The 23rd Judicial Circuit of Missouri is one of six programs in the country selected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to study the impact of SCRAM alcohol monitoring anklets on offender programs and communities. The study will focus on evaluating best-practice programs in an effort to assist other agencies looking to adopt the technology.
The courts in Missouri’s 23rd Judicial Circuit utilize the 24/7 alcohol anklets, which sample sweat to see if a subject has been drinking, for repeat DWI, domestic violence and other serious alcohol-related offenses. According to Division 12 Associate Circuit Court Judge Stephen Bouchard, his court incorporates SCRAM into a comprehensive program that includes immediate consequence for violations and mandatory treatment for defendants on probation. “Mental health professionals have told us it is much easier to treat an alcohol abuser when the individual is clearly maintaining sobriety,” says Bouchard. While the length of time a defendant spends on SCRAM varies, the average duration in the 23rd Judicial Circuit is 137 days.
According to Bouchard, SCRAM is an excellent method to ensure that defendants are not consuming alcohol. “With SCRAM, it’s basically impossible to consume without detection, and defendants know that if they drink or tamper, they’ll be caught,” he says. “It’s an excellent deterrent, and our ability to verify a repeat offender’s abstinence while they are in the community, either on bond or probation, definitely promotes public safety,” he adds. The cost of the system averages $12 per day plus a $75 installation fee. In the 23rd Judicial Circuit, the defendants pay for the cost of the SCRAM monitoring.
The use of SCRAM in the 23rd Judicial Circuit has increased steadily since January of 2007, when twelve defendants were on SCRAM. As of October, more than 130 offenders were being monitored daily with SCRAM, and to-date, the program has monitored 323 defendants using SCRAM bracelets.
Statewide, Missouri has monitored more than 5,000 offenders with SCRAMsince early programs began in the St. Louis area in 2004. Just over 500 offenders in Missouri wear the anklets daily. Two Missouri companies, Eastern Missouri Alternative Sentencing Services and St. Joseph-based Private Probation Services, provide SCRAM monitoring throughout eastern and northeastern Missouri. Both companies have monitored nearly 3,900 offenders in the eastern part of the state to-date.
The NHTSA study is being conducted by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation. According to PIRE, the other programs selected for theSCRAM study include the City and County of Denver Electronic Monitoring Program, the statewide North Dakota 24/7 Program; the Nebraska Supreme Court Office of Probation Administration, the New York 8th Judicial District Hybrid DWI Court and Wisconsin Community Services (a SCRAM Service Provider). The studies are intended to provide best-practice models and give courts a better perspective on both the challenges and the potential impact of 24/7 alcohol monitoring.
Nationwide, SCRAM has monitored 155,000 offenders in 48 states and monitors just under 12,000 every day across the U.S. The third generation of the system, SCRAMx, was released in February of this year and integrates home detention (or “house arrest”) capabilities into the same anklet. The NHTSA study will focus exclusively on alcohol-only testing programs.
About Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc.
Established in 1997, Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc. (AMS) is the world’s largest provider of Continuous Alcohol Monitoring 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 123 people across the U.S. and is a privately-held company headquartered in Littleton, Colorado.