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Local Courts Adding Sweat-Sniffing Anklets to Monitor Drunk Drivers, Underage Drinkers

Media Type: Press Release

Tate County Youth Court Among Programs Monitoring for Alcohol 24/7

TUPELO, MS – In an effort to tackle the epidemic of drunk driving and alcohol-fueled crimes, courts throughout northern Mississippi are introducing a high-tech, alcohol-sensing anklet to help manage and monitor drunk drivers, drug offenders and underage drinkers.

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. The system is already in use in 46 states, including large programs in Laurel and Hattiesburg. Tupelo-based ADAPTS Electronic Monitoring (AEM) is the company managing the SCRAM program in northern Mississippi, and they anticipate rapid adoption of the technology throughout courts in the area in 2009. Statewide, more than 125 offenders have been monitored with the system to-date.

Alcohol and Crime: The Mississippi Picture

According to The Century Council, which compiles and reports drunk driving statistics, more than 21,000 drivers are arrested each year for DUI in the state of Mississippi. Nationwide, the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics reports that 36 percent of those convicted each year for DUI are repeat offenders.

In 2008, a new report on prison and jail population rates across the country identified Mississippi as having one of the fastest-growing rates of incarceration in the country. According to the Pew Charitable Trusts, which released One in 100: Behind Bars in America in 2008, Mississippi falls within the top one-fifth of the states for incarcerated offenders. Alternative sentencing options for nonviolent offenders, including increased used of high-tech monitoring tools, are essential as states and counties struggle to manage an ever-increasing number of offenders in tough economic times. According to Mike Iiams, chairman and CEO for Denver-based Alcohol Monitoring Systems (AMS), which manufactures and markets the SCRAMSystem, alcohol-fueled offenders are a huge portion of the country’s offender population, which is why states are trending toward monitoring and tackling the root cause of the issue, which is the addiction. “More than 40 percent of those convicted of crimes each year are drunk at the time of their offense, and that number has remained unchanged for decades,” says Iiams. “Courts have recognized that tackling the alcohol abuse—the addiction—and ensuring sobriety can have a significant impact in terms of deterring repeat alcohol offenses, and 24/7 monitoring is the only way to do that effectively,” says Iiams.

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 county jurisdictions.

SCRAM was introduced to the criminal justice market in April of 2003. To-date the system has conducted 179 million alcohol tests on just under 80,000 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 ADAPTS Electronic Monitoring, LLC (AEM)
Based in Tupelo, AEM is the exclusive provider of SCRAM Continuous Alcohol Monitoring Services to 48 Mississippi counties, including the cities of Tupelo, Columbus, Starkville, Oxford, Batesville, Holly Springs, Corinth, Olive Branch, South Haven, Clarksdale, Grenada, Greenville and Tunica. AEMemploys five full-time employees. Its sister company, ADAPTS, LLC, provides forensic lab services and DNA testing for courts and government agencies throughout Mississippi.

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 104 people across the U.S. and is a privately-held company headquartered in Littleton, Colorado.