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Court uses bracelets to monitor repeated alcohol.

The sunfor continuous alcohol monitoring, the S.C.A.M system is now being offered for alcohol-related repeat offenders. Yumas Municipal Court judges are taking a high-tech approach to making sure people on probation for repeated alcohol-related offenses arent drinking. Lead Municipal Court Officer Jenny Umphress said the court in june began offering offenders who have committed repeated alcohol-related offenses the opportunity to wear an alcohol-detecting ankle bracelet as a part of an alternative sentencing program.

"this is one of the only ways to completely monitor someone. if you drink, it will register", Umphress said. "its a deterrent. If they dont complete the program, they go to jail. that is hanging over their heads."

The technology, called the Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor (SCRAM), includes an ankle bracelet that offenders wear 24 hours a day, seven day a week in order to detect the presence of alcohol in a person's system.

Since sobriety is a condition of probation for anyone convicted of an alcohol-related effense, Umphress said the ankle bracelets serve as a deterrent and as a tool to ensure the offender is following the conditions of his or her probation or release.

Umphress explained that the SCRAM is an alcohol monitoring program that is intended for the repeat offender who wold otherwise be facing mandatory incarceration.

Instead of incarceration, she said Yumas Municipal Court judges are offering these offenders the choice of wearing the ankle bracelet for 90 days.

The first ankle bracelet was issued in July, and since then 15 defendants have been monitored by SCRAM, according to court officials. Umphress said 12 offenders are currently wearing the bracelets, with two others completing the program successfuly. Only one defendant has been noncompliant with the program thus far.

"I think its been a grat sucess and we have been getting some really great results",Umphress said.

Termed Continuous Alcohol Monitoring, the system automatically and continuously monitors the sweat of defendants whose probation is directly related to alcohol cnsumption and makes sure they stay sober by measuring ethanol vapor as it migrates through the surface of the skin.

"Its also very tamper-resistant", Umphress said.

The monitoring occurs once every hour and takes approximately one to two seconds to complete. The offender is required by the SCRAM sentencing agreement to download the information contained in the bracelet to a modem once a day.

That information is then sent by satellite to the company in charge of monitoring the defendants, Phoenix-based PCI.

"We dont do the monitoring, the company in Phoenix does," Umphress said. "If there is a violation a report is sent to the court."

Another important aspect of the program, Umphress said, is that the taxpayers arent having to pay for it. The offenderers are.

"They are court-ordered to wear the ankle bracelets and the company installs and collects the fees ", Umphress said."It costs about $50 to install and $12 a day to wear".

Umphress said the program has been so successful in Municipal Court that she hopes to see other courtd in the Yuma area using it also.

Denver-based Alcohol Monitoring Systems (AMS), which manufactures and markets SCRAM, says that continuous Alcohol Monitoring makes offenders accountable and prevents them from drinking around testing schedules.

According to AMS, the technology is now in use 43 states, including Arizona, and SCRAM has monitored over 40,000 offenders nationwide since it was launched to the market in April 2003