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Effectiveness of the Scram Alcohol Monitoring Device: A Preliminary Test

NCJ Number
Drug Court Review Volume: 6 Issue: 2 Dated: 2009 Pages: 109-134
Victor E. Flango Ph.D.; Fred L. Cheesman Ph.D.
Date Published
26 pages
This article reports on the findings of a preliminary study of how a transdermal alcohol-detection bracelet device (the Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor) might impact DWI (driving while impaired) recidivism.
While wearing the Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor (SCRAM) ankle bracelet, DWI offenders had a 3.5-percent reoffense rate, which is relatively low, suggesting that SCRAM may be a useful monitoring tool. Since half of the SCRAM users reoffended at some other point in time, these results suggest that offender behavior while wearing the SCRAM device may have the potential to predict future reoffending. The results of the multivariate survival analysis suggest that the use of SCRAM may influence the long-term probability of recidivism if it is worn for at least 90 days or more by offenders with at least one prior DWI offense. Consistent with the substance abuse treatment literature, wearing the device for at least 90 days apparently reduces the probability of reoffending compared to what it would have been if the device were worn for a shorter period of time. These findings indicate that SCRAM may be effective with repeat offenders. The small sample size used in the study, however, prevents making definitive conclusions about this use of the SCRAM device. The SCRAM ankle bracelet has been commercially available since 2003. The SCRAM detects alcohol from continuous samples of vaporous or insensible perspiration (sweat) collected from the air above the skin and transmits data for remote monitoring via the Web. Data on the treatment group (SCRAM users) were obtained from the SCRAM service provider in North Carolina. A sample of 114 SCRAM users composed the treatment group. Criminal history data were obtained from North Carolina's Statewide Criminal Information System and compared with a randomly selected pool of 3,000 DWI offenders who did not use SCRAM. 3 tables, 1 figure, and 15 references