The experts in the correctional field claim there's potential for law enforcement on the streets to reap benefits from continuous alcohol monitoring. Though those monitored work most closely with supervising agents, the effect of the bracelet could help offenders modify the behaviors that got them into the system in the first place. This could create a trickle-down effect from community corrections to a reduction in recidivism rate, which experts recognize is high for alcohol offenders. Barton feels that in his community, the possibility for a trickle-down effect is very promising.
"Many of these drunk drivers and folks [who] have alcohol problems are frequent flyers of the criminal justice system. Our pilot judge has … many sincere letters from folks that say, 'Yes, this has changed my life [and] I have gotten used to being alcohol-free and I have a much better and more productive life,' " says Barton.
Originally, he saw a possibility for Marion County's pilot program to backfire. He says there was some concern that the promise of consequences for alcohol use could have sent people running for other mood-altering substances that SCRAM doesn't register, such as marijuana.
"One thing that I worried about when we got this, quite honestly, was [if we] would chase them to another type of poison," Barton says. "But we haven't seen that."
Murnock, who worked a decade in probation and parole before joining AMS, says he has an optimistic outlook for the effects of SCRAM use in corrections on law enforcement work in the long run.
"I think [SCRAM] complements [law enforcement officers'] frontline efforts in the field," Murnock says. "Having worked side by side with law enforcement, I respect their efforts, especially as it comes to dealing with alcohol offenders. I think they, of anybody, know how often the alcohol offender is released with very minor sanctions put into place. I think they would also be the first to say these are the same people that have the revolving door effect in the system. The first-time DUI offender can become a multiple DUI offender in a very short period of time. I think law enforcement officers appreciate the work we do because it's a very strong accountability tool."
Barton agrees that reducing recidivism is a possible outcome with pervasive and prolonged use of SCRAM by corrections. He notes his community's correctional use extends beyond sobriety, but also celebrates reducing alcohol use.
"The thing I think we've done a little differently here — that I don't know if all of the jurisdictions do — is we don't throw them in the slammer the first time they drink," Barton says. "We realize that this is a tough thing to crack. We have a matrix set up to deal with the first offense, second offense, [and so on]. So they won't go back to jail right away on SCRAM. [While we] love that major victory of total abstinence, we measure small victories as well."Hollywood's 'not' list
As far as SCRAM's negative presence in Hollywood, Smith says it isn't curtains for the device, but instead reinforces its capability and power. When those individuals in the public eye with the best resources turn to SCRAM, it says something about the quality and supremacy of the system.
Smith notes the bracelet on celebrity ankles says positive things about the respect of the technology in it. "It's one of these things about the notoriety, and frankly … if a celebrity would say to you, 'I'm going to prove to you this, this and this' and they choose this kind of testing then that shows the confidence in the technology"