In the conclusion of this three-part series, we take a look at the final three programs chosen for case studies by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. According to their final report, New York’s 8th Judicial District Hybrid DWI Court, The North Dakota Attorney General 24/7 Sobriety Program and Wisconsin Community Services were all chosen to serve as representatives of the effectiveness of SCRAM Continuous Alcohol Monitoring devices.
The 8th Judicial District Hybrid DWI Court consists of four DWI courts: Amherst, Buffalo, Jamestown and Niagara Falls. The jurisdiction has utilized SCRAM devices to monitor defendants since 2006. The majority of participants are nonviolent felony DWI offenders with at the least one prior DWI. Participants are generally selected if there is evidence of an alcohol use disorder. According to the program, “early DWI court graduates assigned to transdermal monitoring have reportedly had very low recidivism rates.” Program supports believe that the monitoring is “highly cost-effective” as participants are required to pay for their own monitoring costs.
North Dakota’s 24/7 Sobriety Program is based off of South Dakota’s successful program of the same name. It is a statewide program that began in 2008 with 12 pilot counties and was adopted in all judicial districts in August 2010 by legislative authorization to the Attorney General. Participants in the 24/7 Sobriety Program are generally those who are arrested for a second or subsequent DUI. According to NHTSA’s final report, monitoring costs are usually paid by the offender, the vast majority of participants successfully complete the program without a confirmed tamper or drinking event and the devices are user-friendly.
The final site chosen for a case study was Wisconsin Community Services (WCS). WCS has been in service since 1912 working with high-risk offenders. In one county alone, only 7% of the over 1800 offenders monitored over a 6-year period tested positive for alcohol use. Program supporters have found that the monitoring enhances public safety and provides swift accountability.
The overall consensus of nearly every program studied was that well-trained staff is key to success. Understanding how the technology works seems to be paramount in whether people are willing to invest in the device and determine if it will be effective for their jurisdiction. Of those with a firm understanding of the underlying technology, most programs would recommend transdermal monitoring to their counterparts across the country.