SALT LAKE CITY—In an effort to tackle the epidemic of alcohol-fueled crimes, courts throughout Salt Lake, Tooele and Summit counties are employing a high-tech, alcohol-sensing anklet to manage and monitor alcohol-fueled offenders.
Known as SCRAM (for Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor), the anklets, worn 24 hours a day, actually sample an offender’s perspiration every 30 minutes in order to ensure compliance with court-ordered sobriety. Already in use in 46 states, courts in the 3rd Judicial District are the first in the state to incorporate the technology into programs designed to tackle the specific issues facing alcohol-fueled offenders—specifically, the alcohol addiction. The local program, which began this month, has monitored 14 offenders to-date.
Alcohol and Crime: The Utah Picture
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the rate of alcohol-related traffic fatalities in Utah is one of the lowest in the country. In 2007, 17% of those killed on the state’s highways were involved in an alcohol-related crash. The national average is 21.7%. However, according to The Century Council, which compiles and reports drunk driving statistics, more than 16,000 drivers are arrested each year for DUI in Utah, and of those convicted, an astounding 50% were driving at a BAC level of 0.15 or above, which is nearly twice the legal limit. Thirty-six percent are convicted as repeat offenders. NHTSA also reported a 400% increase in 2007 in alcohol-related motorcycle fatalities in Utah. Nationwide, alcohol-impaired fatalities for motorcyclists increased by 10% between 2006 and 2007.
Denver-based Alcohol Monitoring Systems (AMS), which manufactures and markets the SCRAM System, says they’ve seen rapid adoption of their Continuous Alcohol Monitoring technology into courts across the country, and they attribute that to the fact that judges are changing their focus from sanctioning cars to addressing the alcohol addiction, which experts agree drives the repeat, high-risk behavior of millions of offenders each year. “Despite the availability of a number of programs that focus on limiting an offender’s ability to drive once they’ve been convicted of a DUI, for decades both DUI fatality rates and repeat offender statistics have been stagnant,” says Mike Iiams, AMS chairman and CEO. “The success of drug-related programs is serving as a model for dealing with alcohol-fueled offenders, including the essential component of effective monitoring.”
Beyond drunk driving, the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that in 75% of all cases of domestic violence, the offender is drunk at the time of the offense, a problem that is well-known to the criminal justice community. “The correlation between alcohol abuse and domestic violence is a very difficult cycle to break,” says Mary Lou Emerson, executive director of the Utah Substance Abuse and Anti-Violence Coordinating Council. “Technology can absolutely help individuals break that dependence on alcohol while also protecting victims from further abuse, which is a significant concern.” The Honorable Bob Yeates, executive director of the State of Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, agrees. “Transdermal alcohol monitors not only help the courts ensure that high-risk alcohol offenders are in compliance with court orders, they improve the safety of the entire 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. In Utah, Rocky Mountain Offender Management Systems, which manages the SCRAM program, says they provide the technology on a sliding scale, which ensures no one is ever denied service based on their ability to pay.
SCRAM was introduced to the criminal justice market in April of 2003. To-date the system has conducted 166 million alcohol tests on more than 76,000 offenders. Nearly 1,700 jurisdictions are using the technology on DUI, drug, domestic violence and juvenile offenders. SCRAM is also used as a tool in family court, where proof of sobriety may impact custody or visitation agreements.
About Rocky Mountain Offender Management Systems
Founded in 2001, Rocky Mountain Offender Management Systems (RMOMS) provides a wide array of offender management and monitor services to courts, including low- and high-risk offender management, private probation services, drug and therapeutic court support services, in-home detention, GPS tracking and sobriety monitoring. RMOMS manages SCRAMprograms in multiple jurisdictions in Colorado, Alaska, Kansas, New York and Utah and is the exclusive provider of SCRAM in Utah’s 3rd Judicial District.RMOMS employs 140 people in 27 locations and is headquartered in Westminster, Colorado.
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.