Thousands of people are convicted of driving under the influence in Virginia each year, with tax payers footing the bill for them to sit in prison. However, an alcohol monitoring program in Loudoun County has saved more than $1 million.
In May of 2008, the county began to use the Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring (SCRAM) system. Since the program was enacted, more than 70 alcohol-related offenders have worn the anklet and according to county officials, the program saves money each day.
According to Ted McDaniel, Director of Loudoun County Community Corrections, the cost to keep an inmate in the local jail is about $160 each day. He says that amount is obviously saved if that person is not in jail.
Currently there are 10 people in Loudoun County wearing SCRAM devices, which is saving the county $1,600 in prison expenses each day the offenders remain sober.
McDaniel says the county spends no money on the system, as the offenders are forced to pay for it themselves.
According to McDaniel, monitoring habitual offenders can typically be difficult due to alcohol leaving the body within 24 ours. SCRAM immediately alerts officials if alcohol is consumed.
The SCRAM bracelet monitors a person’s sweat, much like a breathalyzer. It is constantly worn around the ankle and sends a remote signal to a modem. Each person’s blood-alcohol content is measured by analysts all day, everyday. It also has tamper detection features in order to ensure that offenders don’t remove it.
After seeing the success of the SCRAM program in Loudoun County, officials in Fairfax County are also considering adopting the program. Supervisor Pat Herrity has spoken out in support of the system, but it will be up to the decision of the Chief Justice whether or not courts can order alcohol offenders to wear the SCRAM anklets.