SCRAM Plays Integral Role in South Dakota’s 24/7 Sobriety Project
LITTLETON, CO—Unlike most of the United States that is experiencing severely overcrowded prisons and rising inmate populations, the State of South Dakota has actually seen a decline in its prison numbers for the second consecutive fiscal year. Over the last two years, the number of male inmates entering South Dakota prisons dropped by 14%, which is helping save both the state’s budget and taxpayers millions of dollars annually.
One element that contributed to this change is South Dakota’s 24/7 Sobriety Project, a program that targets felony DUI offenders and others who have committed alcohol-related crimes. Attorney General Larry Long introduced the program in January 2005 as a pilot project in three counties, and it has since expanded into 57 counties statewide. The program requires defendants arrested for second-offense drunk driving or any felony DUI to stay sober for a period determined by the court. During that time, offenders are required to submit to two breath tests per day, seven days week, to demonstrate their sobriety and avoid jail. The program also utilizes the SCRAM® (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor) ankle bracelet to continuously monitor those offenders who are not able to get to a testing facility twice a day, either because they live far from a testing site or have work schedule conflicts.
In Warden Doug Weber’s 28 years of experience at the South Dakota state penitentiary in Sioux Falls, the inmate population has never fallen two years in a row. “It’s positive, it’s reassuring, and it’s refreshing,” Weber says. In addition to the 24/7 Sobriety Project, Weber believes one of the main reasons for the decrease is the new programs the prison uses to rehabilitate inmates, as well as help them earn parole.
Since SCRAM became part of the 24/7 Sobriety Project in November 2006, approximately 680 offenders have been monitored by the device for an average of 89 days/person. The state has approximately 700 SCRAMbracelets in its inventory through funding provided by HB 1072, as well as initial funding by NHTSA.
Larry Long noted, “Because SCRAM tests offenders remotely – and every half hour around the clock – we feel it is an excellent addition to our program. To date, more than 80 percent of the participants wearing SCRAM have remained sober and compliant with the program’s requirements. Some offenders give us credit for helping save their lives.”
“We are excited that SCRAM has proven to be such a vital supplement to South Dakota’s 24/7 Project and are looking to help other states adopt a similar program model so they can also begin seeing results like reduced prison overcrowding and budget savings, as well as safer roadways and reduced recidivism,” adds Don White, chief operating officer at Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc. (AMS), which manufactures and markets theSCRAM device.
The impressive results of South Dakota’s 24/7 Sobriety Project also helped it to gain recognition as a Midwest regional finalist for the Council of State Governments (CSG) Innovations Award, announced at the CSG Midwest Regional Summer Meeting on July 15, 2008. Later this year, the program will be among eight regional finalists to compete for the overall national award. The CSG is in its 22nd year of honoring one U.S. program with an award that highlights cutting-edge programs, so that innovations of one state may prove beneficial to others.
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 97 people across the U.S. and is a privately-held company headquartered in Littleton, Colorado.