Two and a half years of data on the Secure Remote Alcohol Monitoring (SCRAM) project show that the technology of ankle bracelet alcohol monitoring can function effectively in Alaska. The monitoring devices, which monitor the wearer’s consumption of alcohol through transdermal analysis, have been used by the Department of Corrections for probation supervision with chronic alcohol abuse offenders, by the Wellness Court, and by the juvenile justice system.
The Alaska Justice Statistical Analysis Center (SAC) at the UAA Justice Center analyzed monitoring data from 2003 through mid-2005 for 319 users of the bracelets in Anchorage, Palmer, Fairbanks, Bethel and Kotzebue and conducted structured interviews with personnel from the various state agencies involved with the project to determine problems, ease of use, and failures with the devices. Results from the analysis and interviews were very consistent, indicating no problems with the technology.
At the onset of the project, there was some concern that the devices and system might not work effectively under arctic weather conditions or within the limited technological infra-structure of more remote parts of the state. The Center evaluation, “An Implementation of Remote Alcohol Monitoring in Alaska,” concluded that the SCRAM devices function well with the rural Alaska satellite telecommunications network. The system operated even under extreme cold and other inclement conditions, and there were no reports of failures with the bracelets, modems or network. The devices worked with clients who held jobs on the North Slope as well as some who were doing outdoor construction work. In one instance, with a client fishing in a cold river, the analysis of the readouts was able to identify the conditions accurately.
Alan McKelvie, Director of the Statistical Analysis Center at the UAA Justice Center, conducted the study.