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Lake County Courts Getting Tough on Drunk Drivers

Media Type: Press Release

Alcohol-Sniffing Anklets Help Counties Monitor Offenders 24/7, Ease Jail Crowding

GARY, IN—Courts in Lake County have begun to use a high-tech, alcohol-sniffing ankle bracelet to help monitor drunk drivers and other offenders as part of the county’s efforts to address alcohol-fueled crime and jail overcrowding.

The technology is known as SCRAM (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor), and it includes an ankle bracelet, worn 24/7, that actually samples an offender’s sweat every 30 minutes in order to test for alcohol consumption. The system is designed specifically for long-term monitoring of the more than 2.4 million alcohol-fueled offenders convicted in the U.S. each year, ensuring compliance with court-ordered sobriety.

SCRAM has been in use in other parts of the state, including Hancock, Hamilton, Hendricks, Marion and Vigo counties since 2004, monitoring more than 2,900 offenders to-date. Lake County is in the early phases of integrating the system into their offender management program, monitoring approximately a dozen offenders. Total Court Services, the company that manages the SCRAM program for Lake County, as well other parts of the state, says that they anticipate expansion of the Lake County program throughout 2008.

According to The Century Council, which monitors and compiles drunk driving-related data, in Indiana, 39,000 drivers are arrested for OWI(Operating While Impaired) each year. Nearly 20 percent are convicted as repeat offenders. 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. Denver-based Alcohol Monitoring Systems (AMS), which manufactures and markets SCRAM, also reports that there is an emerging trend at the legislative level, with six states, including Delaware, Ohio and Vermont, passing legislation that incorporates the technology, known as “Continuous Alcohol Monitoring” (CAM), into drunk driving laws. CAM legislation is currently pending or in process in several other states, including New York and New Jersey.

Robert Hawkins of Total Court Services says that the goal of integrating 24/7 alcohol monitoring into offender management programs is to focus on the core issue—the alcohol addiction—which is paralyzing counties as they struggle to manage increasing numbers of offenders on ever-shrinking budgets. “Alcohol-involved offenders are stuck in a revolving door of alcohol and crime, and courts and jails are struggling more than ever before with the need to balance offender management with community safety,” says Hawkins. “The alcohol is the key problem. This technology allows us to actually separate the alcohol from the individual, and to ensure compliance with court-ordered sobriety while they’re also living and working productively in the community.”

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. Nationwide, SCRAMhas monitored more than 66,000 offenders in 46 states since it launched to the corrections market in April of 2003.

About Total Court Services
Founded in 2005, Total Court Services (TCS) manages both SCRAM and ignition interlock programs throughout Indiana, Nevada, California and Michigan. TCS manages multiple locations throughout Indiana, with their main office based in Elkhart. TCS employs 10 people nationwide and is a privately-held company headquartered in Royal Oak, Michigan.

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.