How the Pandemic Influenced Some Jurisdictions to Move to Electronic Monitoring


Now, seven months into the health crisis, most people are having to rethink what the world looks like. This includes jails and detention centers, potential virus super spreaders because of the close proximity of inmates and shared spaces.

Some jurisdictions have looked to alternatives including electronic monitoring as a safe way to monitor offenders and reduce the jail population in their area. COVID-19 seems to be the motivator that influences local law enforcement and court supervisors to make the shift.

Continuous alcohol monitors such as the SCRAM CAM device monitor offenders remotely for alcohol consumption. The device is worn 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and automatically checks for any alcohol intake. Every 30 minutes the device tests through the sweat that is naturally excreted through a person’s skin on their ankle.

American courts are not the only ones interested in the technology. In New Zealand and Australia, lawmakers are taking a look at the devices to help reduce the spread of the virus while still providing effective alcohol monitoring of offenders. The devices will be used as a condition of release for people who have been ordered to remain sober as a condition of their sentencing or parole.

In a pilot program, wearers remained sober 96.5 percent of the time and 115 of the 153 monitored individuals abstained from alcohol for the duration of their monitoring period. Many fear that COVID-19 has increased the number of people that are abuse alcohol. Alcohol-related crimes are a problem around the world and with the added safety precautions necessary during the health crisis, remote electronic monitoring may be the answer. Find out more about New Zealand’s program: “Alcohol detection anklets gain attention in New Zealand.”