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MT Judges Get Tough on Alcohol Misuse With Combined Home Detention, 24/7 Alcohol Anklets

Media Type: Press Release

Missoula Company to Expand Cost-Saving Program to Courts in Eastern Montana

MISSOULA, MT—Judges in Missoula and surrounding counties are some of the first in the country to implement a new electronic monitoring program that combines home detention (or “house arrest”) and 24/7 alcohol monitoring in one anklet. The program, known as SCRAMx, is said to be cutting incarceration costs as well as giving judges more options for keeping tabs on repeat offenders in both Montana’s urban and rural areas.

SCRAM (for Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor) includes an ankle bracelet, worn 24/7, that tests an offender’s perspiration every 30 minutes for alcohol consumption. Courts throughout Montana have used the system for 24/7 alcohol monitoring since 2006. But in February of this year, a new release of the bracelets, known as SCRAMx, added the ability for courts to order offenders to conventional house arrest, or home detention, using the same anklet. Missoula-based Compliance Monitoring Systems, LLC, which has managed the SCRAM program throughout western Montana since 2008, is one of the first providers in the country to be certified to provide the multi-function bracelets to courts and agencies.

To-date, 25 offenders in western Montana have been monitored with the dual-function bracelets, and CMS is in the process of expanding availability throughout the state. According to Danielle Waltner, central operations manager for CMS, the dual-function program is not only helping courts clamp down on the state’s repeat alcohol offenders, the enhanced monitoring is resulting in a substantially higher compliance rate. “On average, 78 percent of our alcohol-only offenders are fully compliant while they’re monitored with SCRAM,” says Waltner. “To-date, we’ve had 100 percent compliance from offenders monitored both for alcohol and home detention,” she adds. According to Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc. (AMS), which manufactures and markets the SCRAMx System throughout the U.S. and parts of Canada, 91 percent of offenders monitored with the dual-function system have been compliant, compared to 75 percent of offenders monitored only for alcohol.

Lou Sugo, vice president of Marketing for AMS, says that the reason for the increased compliance rate is most likely due to the limitation that home detention puts on where offenders spend their time when not at work. “If someone with a history of alcohol misuse is spending their time in bars and at house parties around other substance abusers, studies show that it’s going to compromise their progress and contribute to relapse,” Lou Sugo “What we’re finding is that when the courts not only order sobriety but curtail their activities when they’re not working, compliance rates shoot up. Not only is that advantageous for the community, it’s a substantial contributor to the potential for long-term behavior change,” he says.

Montana and Alcohol Offenders

To-date, Montana has monitored nearly 1,800 offenders for alcohol with SCRAM. According to Waltner, Montana is well-suited for implementing high-tech offender monitoring, which is generally seen as cost-effective as well as easily adaptable to more rural populations. “This technology is an ideal solution for a system that has very limited space in our jails,” says Waltner. Many of Montana’s jail facilities are equipped only for holding, not incarceration. And the National Institute of Corrections reports that Montanaaverages $30 a day to incarcerate offenders at taxpayer costs. The SCRAMx program in Montana runs $13 per day, and all or a significant portion of that cost is paid for by the offender, depending on ability to pay. “Combine limited or costly jail facilities with scant funding for misdemeanor probation supervision and the distance many offenders live from the courts and monitoring centers, and we’ve had a difficult challenge finding programs that are cost-effective and reliable for keeping tabs on offenders sentenced to community supervision,” she says. “This technology is changing the way our state can tackle some of the unique challenges we face as we try to manage these high-risk offenders,” she says.

AMS monitors 11,000 offenders each day in 48 states, and they anticipate as many as 20 percent of their monitored clients at any given time will be monitored for both alcohol and home arrest.

To-date SCRAM has monitored 152,000 offenders nationwide. SCRAMx with house arrest has been in live subject testing since 2009, and AMS began a limited, nationwide rollout of the multifunction system in February 2010. In addition to Montana, courts in Dallas, eastern and western Pennsylvania, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, Tulsa and Reno have integrated the dual-function monitoring into their programs.

About Compliance Monitoring Services, LLC
Established in 2008, Compliance Monitoring Systems, LLC is the exclusive provider of SCRAMx in 48 Montana counties, with current service to Missoula, Mineral, Flathead, Lake, Ravalli, Lewis and Clark, Broadwater, Gallatin, Park, Cascade, Jefferson, Granite, Deer Lodge, Silver Bow, Madison and Beaverhead counties. CMS is expanding the SCRAMx program throughout Montana, providing both alcohol and home detention monitoring to courts and agencies throughout the entire state. CMS employs seven full-time and two part-time employees and is headquartered in Missoula.

About Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc.
Established in 1997, Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc. (AMS) is the world’s largest provider of Continuous Alcohol Monitoring technology. AMS manufactures SCRAMx, which uses non-invasive transdermal analysis to monitor alcohol consumption and integrates home detention monitoring into a single anklet. SCRAMx 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. AMS employs 123 people across the U.S. and is a privately-held company headquartered in Littleton, Colorado.