DENVER—The Michigan Department of Corrections has formally launched a new 24-hour-a-day alcohol testing program that officials say will keep tabs on high-risk DWI and other alcohol offenders around-the clock.
The state’s newest tool in their Electronic Monitoring arsenal is the Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor—or SCRAM—an ankle bracelet/modem combination, similar to a home arrest system. But instead of monitoring an offender’s location, the bracelet actually tests a subject’s sweat, at least once every hour, in order to determine Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC). According to the system’s manufacturer, Denver-based Alcohol Monitoring Systems, this continuous alcohol testing program is the first system that can monitor offenders 24 hours a day to ensure they remain sober. “As states continue to look for ways to move more non-violent, alcohol-related offenders from prison to community supervision, high-tech monitoring solutions have become increasingly essential as a way to ensure offenders are accountable,” says Don White, vice president of field operations for AMS. Offenders eligible for SCRAM will include medium- and high-risk offenders where alcohol is a significant factor in their offense or where there is a history of alcohol abuse. “Ensuring these offenders remain sober is essential to decreasing their recidivism rate, and ultimately the risk to the community,” says White. On average, the state electronically monitors 2,500 offenders statewide.
Michigan first began using the SCRAM System in July of 2002, participating in a comprehensive BETA test of the product with 26 offenders in Washtenaw, Kent and Berrien counties. Michigan expanded SCRAM to a Pilot Program in March of 2003. The new three-year contract for 500 SCRAMunits went into effect on July 1st, and the state projects those units will monitor more than 4,500 offenders over the course of the contract. Michigan has more than 100 field offices, and AMS and MDOC are putting together a phased training program for agents and call center personnel throughout the state. In addition to the BETA counties, district, circuit, and specialty courts in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Saginaw, Lansing and Ann Arbor metropolitan areas currently have offenders on SCRAM.
Michigan EM Programs Considered Progressive, Cost-Effective
According to AMS, the company pursued Michigan as a BETA site forSCRAM because of the state’s reputation as a pioneer in the use of technology and electronic monitoring to manage offenders in the community. “Michigan has a long history of being on the leading edge of new technological solutions, and SCRAM is considered the next generation when it comes to remote alcohol monitoring,” says White. “Agencies around the country often look to Michigan as a model for what technology can do to improve offender management and decrease recidivism.”
As with most Electronic Monitoring programs in Michigan, offenders are paying the equipment rental and daily monitoring fees for SCRAM, which average $12 per day. According to Steve Bock, program manager for the Electronic Monitoring Center in the Michigan DOC, there are economic and social benefits to the state, as well as better offender management. “Invariably, 24/7 testing is going to detect alcohol usage that can be missed on a system than can only test when the offender is home, or on a random schedule,” says Bock. “The ability to test a subject, no matter where they are or the time of day, and without requiring them to participate in the testing, is a significant improvement.”
Across the U.S., SCRAM has already conducted nearly 5 million alcohol tests on more than 3,300 offenders in the first year-and-a-half on the market. The system is currently in use in more than 200 jurisdictions in 21 states, including courts in Dallas, Indianapolis, Salt Lake City, Minneapolis, Phoenix, and Orange County, California. The company expects to have monitored more than 5,000 offenders by the end of 2004.
About Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc.
Established in 1997, Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc. manufactures the world’s only noninvasive alcohol-detection system that automatically tests for alcohol every hour, 24 hours a day, regardless of the individual’s location.SCRAM (the Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor) is the first alcohol testing technology to use transdermal analysis to determine an individual’s Blood Alcohol Content. SCRAM fully automates the alcohol testing and reporting process, providing community corrections agencies and treatment organizations nationwide with the ability to classify DWI offenders and assess compliance with sentencing requirements and treatment guidelines. Alcohol Monitoring Systems is a privately held company headquartered in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.