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Pennsylvania's SCRAM bracelet program

The Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole is one dozens of state agencies around the country to have adopted the use of electronic monitoring bracelets to combat drunk driving. Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring, or SCRAM, bracelets detect even trace amounts of alcohol in an offender's bloodstream, and they offer a number of benefits to both law enforcement and the individuals who wear them.

In addition to monitoring offenders for alcohol consumption every 30 minutes, the SCRAM bracelets used in Pennsylvania send out alerts when efforts are made to tamper with them and keep track of curfew compliance. This information is stored in a database that is accessible by the state's parole officers around the clock. Judges often consider SCRAM bracelets appropriate when they do not feel that offenders are dangerous but are concerned about their history of substance abuse problems.

The SCRAM bracelet program also benefits taxpayers in Pennsylvania. Incarcerating a prisoner costs the state $95.85 per day, but electronic monitoring costs only $3.85 per day. Electronic monitoring bracelets also allow probation officers to spend more time tracking down offenders who could pose a threat to the public by eliminating the need for frequent in-person visits and toxicology tests. Individuals who wear SCRAM bracelets benefit because they do not have to take time off work to check in with their parole or probation officers.

Experienced criminal defense attorneys may support programs that allow nonviolent offenders to remain productive members of the community, but they could question the reliability of technology that is designed to detect trace levels of a substance that is used as a primary ingredient in many common topical skin lotions. Attorneys could also suggest a more traditional supervised release program when those facing drunk driving charges are unable to meet the upfront and ongoing costs of electronic monitoring.

Source: The Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole, "Jewelry for Justice", accessed on May 30, 2018

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