COLUMBUS—When more than 250 judges from across the state of Ohio gather this week in Columbus, one of the issues that will be top-of-mind is Ohio’s newest amendment to the laws that govern drunk drivers. Namely, an all-new technology generally termed Continuous Alcohol Monitoring has been signed into law as a new sanction, opening the doors to an entirely new way for the state to track and even rehabilitate drunk drivers.
SCRAM—or the Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor—is an ankle bracelet/modem combination, much like a home arrest system. But instead of tracking an offender’s location, SCRAM actually tests a subject’s sweat, every hour, 24 hours a day, in order to monitor for alcohol consumption.SCRAM has been in limited use in Ohio since January, first in the Cleveland/Akron area, then expanding to 9 other counties. Franklin County, the state’s second largest county, signed a contract for SCRAM units in July and is currently developing their SCRAM program. According to Alcohol Monitoring Systems Vice President Don White, the inclusion of Continuous Alcohol Monitoring in the state’s laws gives judges a whole new level of risk management when it comes to dealing with alcohol in the corrections system. “Alcohol-related offenders occupy a disproportionate amount of our criminal justice system,” says White. “These people are dealing with alcohol addiction and abuse. They’re costly, they’re dangerous, and until Continuous Alcohol Monitoring became an option, there just wasn’t a good way to identify and track them.” Bernie Rockford, executive vice president of Akron-based Oriana House, agrees. “This is an entirely new way for both treatment providers and the judicial system to monitor alcohol offenders,” says Rochford. Oriana House provides treatment and monitoring services to drug and alcohol offenders throughout the state of Ohio. “Conventional alcohol testing has posed some challenges in the past, because we would only know if a person consumed alcohol by administering a breathalyzer test while the alcohol was still in the person’s system. With SCRAM, there is no way to avoid detection. Big brother is definitely watching.”
According to corrections industry analysts, the importance of Continuous Alcohol Testing is that it provides absolute accountability, maximizing the quality of testing but also minimizing the resources required to test. “Drunk drivers occupy a very disproportionate amount of the country’s criminal justice system,” says White. “Forty percent of violent crime; three-fourths of all domestic violence cases—alcohol was a trigger for the offender in all of those.” According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics in the US Department of Justice, nearly 18 percent of all probationers are serving sentences for drunk driving. And of the nearly 1 million people incarcerated or on probation forDUIs, 40 percent are repeat offenders. White says the courts and corrections industry are ready for a change. “It’s time to stop the revolving door and start managing the costs and protecting the community, and this type of technology is exactly what the courts need to make that happen.”
Judges to Test Alcohol Ankle Bracelet at Columbus Conference
Scheduled for September 9th and 10th at the Marriott Hotel North in Columbus, the Ohio Judicial Conference will host close to 300 judges. A handful of those will actually wear SCRAM throughout the conference, attending social functions related to the event and testing the system for accurate readings and any tamper attempts. The system works by transmitting the data collected in the bracelet to a conventional modem using a standard RF signal, similar to a TV remote control. The modem then sends the data, via a standard phone line, to a secure, web-based server calledSCRAMNET, where the system posts any tamper alerts or positive alcohol readings, and where monitoring agencies are notified of any violations. The volunteer judges and other conference attendees will watch as test results are displayed on SCRAMNET.
SCRAM is currently in use in more than 200 courts in 21 different states, andAMS anticipates adding more than 200 units in the state of Ohio in the next year. SCRAM will be used on DUI offenders, as a pretrial assessment tool, and on other drug and alcohol offenders who are required to remain abstinent as part of their sentence.
About Alcohol Monitoring Systems
Established in 1997, Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc. manufactures the world’s only non-invasive alcohol-detection system that automatically tests for alcohol every hour, 24 hours a day, regardless of the offender’s location. SCRAM—the Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor—is the first alcohol testing technology to use transdermal analysis to determine an offender’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 DUI offenders and assess compliance with sentencing requirements and treatment guidelines. Alcohol Monitoring Systems is a privately held company headquartered in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.