LAS VEGAS—With a record-breaking one in every 100 adults in the U.S. behind bars, more than 1,500 community corrections professionals from across the U.S. will be evaluating and testing a high-tech tool that’s helping to re-define the way agencies monitor the more than 2.4 million alcohol-fueled offenders convicted in the U.S. each year.
Known as SCRAM® (for Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor), the system includes an alcohol-specific ankle bracelet that actually samples a subject’s perspiration, every 30 minutes, in order to test for alcohol consumption. On exhibit this week at the America Probation and Parole Association’s 33rd Annual Training Institute at the Rio Hotel and Suites, August 3–5, volunteer judges and corrections professionals who are attending the conference will be doing demonstrations of the system, which is currently used in 46 states to manage, monitor and rehabilitate hardcore alcohol offenders.
To-date, more than 900 felony and misdemeanor offenders have been monitored with SCRAM in Clark County, including court programs in Las Vegas, North Las Vegas and Henderson. Statewide, courts in Reno introduced the technology in 2007, and courts in both Carson City and South Lake Tahoe will be kicking off SCRAM programs over the next week.
Designed specifically for long-term monitoring of alcohol-involved offenders, the system can be used as part of probation or parole, as a condition of bond or as an alternative tool for alcohol-fueled offenders who, because of record rates of overcrowding, are often the first to be released. To-date more than 70,000 DUI, domestic violence and underage drinkers have been monitored by SCRAM nationwide.
According to Mike Iiams, chairman and CEO of Denver-based Alcohol Monitoring Systems (AMS), which manufactures and markets the SCRAMSystem, Continuous Alcohol Monitoring helps courts focus on the consumption—the individuals—not just the crime. “You have to separate the alcohol from the individual 24/7, not just when they’re behind the wheel, in order to have any hope of changing long-term behavior,” says Iiams. “Recidivism rates are astounding, and alcohol fuels more than 40 percent of all criminal convictions each and every year.” Iiams says that since alcohol metabolizes so rapidly in the body, the continuous testing protocol is the only way to enforce sobriety. “Unless you can test at least once every two to three hours, you’re going to miss 98 percent of drinking violations.”
In 2008, the PEW Charitable Trusts released a report titled One in 100: Behind Bars in America 2008, which paints a startling picture of record rates of incarceration, which are paralyzing jurisdictions working to balance efforts to punish and deter offenders with community safety. The cost for the SCRAM System averages $12 per day, and all or a significant portion of that is generally paid for by the offender. “The average cost to incarcerate someone in a county jail is $64 a days,” says Iiams. “The cost savings for counties and taxpayers is very significant.”
Alcohol and Crime: Nevada Quick Facts
According to The Century Council, a nonprofit group that tracks and reports DUI-related statistics, there are more than 12,000 DUI arrests each and every year in Nevada. The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that of those convicted each year, 40 percent are repeat offenders. Iiams says that it’s that cycle of drinking and re-offending that puts communities at the greatest risk. “Studies show that someone arrested for a DUI has driven drunk an average of 300 times before they’ve been arrested. It’s not the first time they’ve driven drunk, it’s just the first time they’ve been caught,” says Iiams. The BJS also reports that in 75 percent of all reported cases of domestic violence, the offender is drunk at the time of the offense.
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.