Research Studies Support Reliability of Technology Used to Monitor Alcohol-Involved Offenders 24/7
MIAMI—Courts in the Miami-Dade metro area have joined programs in 43 states with their recent adoption of one of the latest trends in high-tech law enforcement: A booze-sniffing bracelet that keeps tabs on DUI, domestic violence, and other alcohol-involved offenders.
The technology is called SCRAM® (the Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor), and it includes a high-tech ankle bracelet that actually samples a subject’s perspiration, every hour around the clock, in order to detect alcohol consumption. Already in use in more than 1,000 courts across the U.S. including Florida, Miami-Dade is one of the largest programs to implement the technology.
According to Don White, vice president of Field Operations for Denver-based Alcohol Monitoring Systems (AMS), which manufactures and markets the technology, 24-hour-a-day monitoring, termed “continuous,” means that offenders can no longer drink around testing schedules and get away with it. “Because SCRAM monitors high-risk offenders continuously throughout a court-ordered sentence, it offers an unprecedented level of accountability,” says White. “Once the bracelet is locked on an offender’s ankle, most think long and hard before drinking. It’s a powerful deterrent.”
Miami-based Court Options, which provides education and electronic monitoring services to courts throughout southern Florida, is the company delivering the SCRAM program to the local courts, including DUI, drug, and family court programs throughout the Miami-Dade area. “Our judges are responding very favorably to this tool,” says Ruben Valdivia, director of Operations for Court Options. AMS credits the publication of several independent studies in the last year that validate the reliability of the technology, including one from the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, for Miami’s recent adoption of the technology. “This tool is gaining a lot of momentum because judges are looking for an effective way to balance jail overcrowding with offender monitoring and community safety,” says Valdivia. “This is the first tool I’ve seen that helps the entire system do all three.”
Alcohol and Crime: The Florida Picture
According to The Century Council, Florida averages nearly 64,000 DUI arrests and more than 47,000 DUI convictions each year. Of those convictions, 28 percent are by repeat offenders. In addition, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration just released alcohol-related fatality rates for 2005. Florida saw a sharp increase in these fatalities, up 4 percent from 2004. Beyond the DUI epidemic, specialty court dockets that focus on family law and domestic violence are also using SCRAM. The U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Statistics says that in an astounding 75 percent of all cases of domestic violence, the offender is drunk at the time of the offense. “The repeat alcohol offender cycle isn’t just costly in terms of money, it’s also a high risk for the local community,” says White. Valdivia agrees. “It’s the cycle of abuse that’s fueling the epidemic, and it’s killing innocent people every day,” says Valdivia.
About Alcohol Monitoring Systems
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 62 people across the U.S. and is a privately held company headquartered in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.