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High-Tech ‘Answer’ to Alcohol Addiction

Instead of locking offenders up for alcohol offenses, Putnam County is going high tech to try and help them get sober.

Putnam County Circuit Court Judge Phillip Stowers pushed for a program called SCRAM.

It’s a bracelet, which looks similar to a home-confinement bracelet, that detects alcohol 24 hours a day, seven days a week. An offender wears it on his or her ankle, and the alcohol is detected through the skin. The results are transmitted back to officials through a modem placed in the offender’s home.

Judge Stowers says SCRAM is a way to help people overcome their addictions.

“They know there’s a risk of getting caught on home confinement,” Stowers says. “But it’s a risk, it’s not 100 percent. This is 100 percent, so this says ‘I can’t drink, I have to be sober’.”

There will be consequences if a person is caught drinking.

The first SCRAM bracelet was assigned Friday. The woman was facing a 3rd-offense DUI charge. She had been to jail, was on home confinement and was trying to stay sober.

Judge Stowers says the bracelets will be assigned on a case-by-case basis, and the people have to want to get sober. Counseling is also required.

“You can take an individual who’s addicted to alcohol, place them in jail, spend thousands of dollars on them housing and feeding them and taking care of them for a year or two,” Stowers says. “When you let them out of jail, they’re going to go right back to drinking if you don’t help them cure the addiction.”

Judge Stowers says this is only a first step though, he wants a drug court, but can’t get any federal funding.

SCRAM will be used primarily in DUI cases and in crimes fueled by alcohol addiction.

The Putnam County Commission leased 10 SCRAM bracelets for $22,000. Most of the offenders will pay $9 a day to wear the bracelets.

Judge Stowers says this is also a win-win situation, because while alcoholics are recovering they can continue to work. The cost of one day in jail in more than $40.

Judge Stowers says he’s also trying to get a patch that would monitor drug use in drug addicts. He hopes to have that in the next six months.

source: WSAZ News

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