OSHKOSH, WI—Winnebago County, Wisconsin, has awarded a multi-year alcohol monitoring contract to SCRAMx alcohol monitoring anklets and its Wisconsin-based service provider, Midwest Monitoring and Surveillance.
While the county was an early user of SCRAM monitoring, in the face of substantial budget shortfalls, officials put the monitoring contract out for bid last year, selecting competitor House Arrest Solution from ActSoft as the lowest cost system. But county officials grew concerned with reports that the ActSoft system was less reliable at catching drinking events. In July the county re-bid the contract and chose to re-integrate the SCRAMx system into their monitoring program.
According to Lou Sugo, vice president of Marketing for Denver-based Alcohol Monitoring Systems, which manufactures and markets the SCRAMx system in the U.S. and parts of Canada, the cost issue is growing in prominence in the face of the economic downturn and unprecedented cuts in corrections programs. “The typical competitive bid process usually puts the ultimate decision for a technology in the hands of purchasing,” says Sugo. “But there are a lot of new-to-the-market systems that are promising they deliver more than they do, and the courts, which ultimately hold technologies accountable for their reliability, are faced with systems that can’t meet the necessary standards for reliability,” says Sugo.
SCRAM stands for Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor, and it samples an offender’s perspiration every 30 minutes in order to ensure compliance with court-ordered sobriety. In February of this year, AMSreleased the third generation of their system, SCRAMx, which provides multi-function monitoring—both transdermal monitoring and house arrest or “home detention” monitoring—with the same anklet. AMS is in the process of rolling out the added home detention function across the U.S. Winnebago County will initially utilize only the alcohol monitoring component of the system until the dual function monitoring is fully integrated into their area.
SCRAMx has monitored nearly 140,000 offenders in 48 states since its launch to the corrections market in April of 2003. “Monitoring accurately for alcohol is a very complex process,” says Sugo. “Our early and rapid penetration in the corrections market has given us the opportunity to develop three generations of the technology and work closely with programs across the country to ensure SCRAMx can meet the very complex requirements of the criminal justice system,” he adds. “It’s easy to promise a reliable, full-function alcohol monitoring system, but incredibly complex to actually deliver one,” he adds.
The SCRAMx technology has been in the spotlight recently, thanks to some high-profile, celebrity offenders. But to the corrections professionals who deal with DUI and other alcohol-involved offenders every day, there is nothing trivial about the issues, which cost the U.S. more than $184 billion annually. “A sweat-sniffing ankle bracelet is technologically interesting and gets a lot of attention in the media,” says Stephen K. Talpins, president of the National Partnership on Alcohol Misuse and Crime (NPAMC). “But the root cause of the issues—alcohol abuse and addiction—are crippling criminal justice in terms of cost and community safety, and technologies are essential to help mitigate the epidemic,” he says.
About Midwest Monitoring and Surveillance
Midwest Monitoring and Surveillance is a Minnesota-based provider of tracking, monitoring and testing technologies to the corrections system throughout several Midwestern states. MMS is the exclusive SCRAMx provider in Winnebago County and also manages nearly 600 SCRAMx units in the state of Minnesota.
About Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc.
Established in 1997, Alcohol Monitoring Systems, Inc. is the world’s largest provider of Continuous Alcohol Monitoring technology. AMS manufacturesSCRAMx, 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.