This paper will argue the fact that house arrest is the best option for alcohol offenders. It will prove through research that most alcohol offenders that have been sentenced to prison time become repeat offenders. Research will also show that offenders sentenced to SCRAMx were less likely to abuse alcohol once released. It will also show how house arrest saves the state money by making the offender pay a fixed rate for their time served on house arrest.
Alcohol offenders are those who commit a crime while under the influence of alcohol. Some examples of these offenders are First-time and Repeat DUI/DWI offenders, offenders who commit homicide or assault while in an automobile, alcohol offenders who are charged with domestic violence, people on parole or probation who are known to use alcohol, minors that have been arrested for alcohol abuse, adults that take care of or oversee minors, offenders trying to reinstate their driving privileges, and licensed professionals who abuse alcohol. Most of these offenders are fined, have their driver’s license revoked and made to attend MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Drivers) meetings and MASEP (Mississippi Alcohol Safety Education Program) classes.
Offenders are required to get SR22 insurance on their automobile and pay a reinstatement fee of $125 in the state of Mississippi, before they can have their license reinstated. Repeat offenders are sentenced to pay a higher fine and spend a longer time without their license. In some states third time offenders are sentenced to serve time in prison, in others, however, offenders are fined, have their licenses revoked for three years and made to spend twenty four to forty eight hours in jail. Would it not be more effective to sentence alcohol offenders to house arrest after the first offense? Some people feel that prison sentences are the best options for alcohol offenders, however, house arrest is the best option.
Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring System (SCRAMx) combines the Continuous Alcohol Monitoring system with the traditional house arrest bracelet. It provides alcohol monitoring every thirty minutes, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week instead of having to set up an appointment for the offender to come in and be tested for alcohol in his or her system. It saves the county and state in which the offender is serving his or her sentence considerable time, resources, and budgets because it is paid for by the offender and he or she is monitored continuously by GPS tracking. (AMS, Inc., 2012) It saves time and resources by letting the probation officer and other officials monitor the offender’s actions from a computer in his or her office. It saves the budget of the county and state by having the offender pay a fee for his or her time served. SCRAMx effects long-term behavioral change that cannot be achieved by incarceration. By helping the offender become alcohol free and find the reason for his or her alcohol abuse, SCRAMx is changing the life of the offender.
SCRAMx offers significant advantages to the courts and supervising agencies that use it, as well as to the offenders themselves. The majority of judges hearing cases involving SCRAMx have recognized that the device is accurate, reliable, and generally accepted. The accuracy and reliability come from measuring the alcohol intake of an offender through transdermal alcohol concentrations in the sweat and insensible perspiration (oils) of the skin cells. Since these tests are done every thirty minutes it omits the possibility of the offender drinking the night before the test is set up to be done in an office setting. Courts accept these results because they are accurate and tamper resistant. SCRAMx allows probation officers and courts to manage hundreds of offender’s right from their desk. The non-invasive testing frees up time and requires no labor from the parties involved. SCRAMx helps improve offender outcomes by letting them maintain family obligations, hold jobs, and contribute positively to the community they live in. (AMS, Inc., 2012)
SCRAMx helps ease the problem of jail overcrowding by keeping non-violent offenders out on house arrest. SCRAMx provides a cost-effective alternative to jail for those prisoners who are not a threat to the community when they are sober. County jails and prisons are populated by a high number of offenders awaiting trial. SCRAMx would reduce jail/prison overcrowding for offenders awaiting trial by providing a way for court officials to monitor and track those offenders from their offices. (Mitchell, 2012) SCRAMx helps individuals get the help they need to sober up, thus ending the revolving door of incarceration. (AMS, Inc., 20120) The revolving doors of incarceration are also known as recidivism. According to the Merriam Webster Dictionary, recidivism is a tendency to relapse into a previous condition or mode of behavior; especially: relapse into criminal behavior. (Merriam-Webster, 2012)
SCRAMx gives offenders a sense of security, continuous accountability, financial responsibility and much more. First, it helps protect public safety, and provides a sense of security for the offender often saving their lives because they stop drinking. Second, Participants of the SCRAMx program give credit to the bracelet for saving their lives. Other programs are easy to beat while drinking. SCRAMx reminds the offender that they are not supposed to drink thus for keeping them sober. Sober days are twenty four hour periods in which the offender has no confirmed alcohol consumption and no confirmed tamper attempts or circumvent testing in order to mask the consumption of alcohol. Third, financial responsibility comes from the offender having to pay for their time on the program. Offenders feel that they are responsible for their own success in finishing the program. (AMS, Inc., 2012)
Some people feel that SCRAMx gives offenders too much freedom unlike prisons where they are under constant supervision. Incarcerating an offender costs prisons approximately $25,251 a year and keeps them off the streets while they serve their sentence. (Lappin, 2011) Once released from prison the offender is required to pay a fine and attend alcohol treatment related therapy. The one common program they are asked to attend is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). This type of therapy is held in a group setting where people with alcohol addictions meet to talk about their lives and the time they have spent sober. Offenders must meet with a parole officer on a monthly basis to ensure they are meeting the terms of their parole. Most terms of probation are simple. Some examples are letting the parole officer know where you live and work and if there are any changes in residence and work, letting them know if you are going to be more than 50 miles away from home, and how long you will be away. (CDCR, 2010)
There are very strict rules that offenders participating the SCRAMx program must follow. Offenders participating in the SCRAMx program have a set schedule and curfew which keeps them off the streets during popular drinking hours. Offenders are only allowed to leave when it is cleared by the probation/parole officer monitoring their sentence. Most common schedules revolve around work schedules and appointments to meet with the probation/parole officer. They are monitored by a Continuous Alcohol Monitoring system that tests every thirty minutes for alcohol levels in their system. Offenders on the SCRAMx program are held accountable for their actions so the first time they try to tamper with the device or have a bad test are returned to prison custody. (AMS, Inc., 2012)
Sentencing alcohol offenders to prison sentences is the number one punishment handed down by courts of law. These sentences cost the state and counties in which the crime is committed millions of dollars a year. SCRAMx, the house arrest program for alcohol offenders, has been proven to offer a better solution for the overcrowding problem in our prison systems. It also helps the offender maintain sobriety and keep them from becoming repeat offenders. Some people feel that prison sentences are the best solution, however, house arrest is the best option for alcohol offenders. In many ways it benefits both the state and the offender. Wouldn’t you agree?
AMS, Inc., (2012) SCRAMx for AMS, The SCRAMx System, Retrieved on December 29, 2012 from www.alcoholmonitoring.com/index/scram/the-scramx-system
AMS, Inc., (2012) SCRAMx from AMS, The Benefits of SCRAMx, Retrieved on December 31, 2012 from www.alcoholmonitoring.com/index/scram/scramx-benefits
Mitchell, Matt (July, 2012) NACo Passes Resolution Supporting Transdermal Testing for Pre-Trial Populations, Retrieved on December 31, 2012 from www.alcoholmonitoring.com/blog/2012/07/naco-passes-resolution-supporting-transdermal-testing-fro-pre-trail-population/#.UNCStneE21o
AMS, Inc., (2012) SCRAMx for AMS, Solutions, Jail Depopulation, Retrieved on December 31, 2012 from www.alcoholmonitoring.com/index/programs/jail-depopulation
Merriam-Webster, Inc., (2012) Definition of recidivism, Retrieved on December 31, 2012 from www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/recidivism
AMS, Inc., (2012) SCRAMx for AMS, About Us, The Offender Perspective, Retrieved on December 31, 2012 from www.alcholmonitoring.com/index/scram/offender-perspective
Lappin, Harley G (February, 2011) Annual Determination of Average Cost of Incarceration, Office of the Federal Register (US) Retrieved on December 31, 2012 from www.federalregister.gov/articles/2011/02/03/2011-2363/annual-determination-of-average-cost-of-incarceration
California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (2010) Division of Adult Parole Operations, Parolee Conditions, Retrieved on December 31, 2012 from http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/parole/parolee_conditions/index.html
AMS, Inc., (2012) SCRAMx for AMS, The SCRAMx System, Retrieved on December 31, 2012 from www.alcoholmonitoring.com/index/scram/the-scramx-system