Prison Without Walls: Electronic Monitoring

SCRAMx: Alcohol Monitoring and House Arrest


Electronic monitoring provides a low-cost means of safe, community supervision for lower-risk inmates. Contrary to popular belief the tracking devices cannot be removed without sending an alert to a base station monitored by the tracking agency. Each unit emits a frequency a couple of minutes which allows supervisors to pinpoint an offender’s location at all times, according to their pre-planned schedules.



There are also alcohol monitoring systems in place to randomly check an offenders drinking habits. An in-home breathalyzer records, via telephone, the amount of alcohol consumed by the offender. On-board cameras make no mistake about who’s submitting the breath sample.


Real-time maps show the offender’s path of travel. Forbidden zones are marked in red, alerting authorities whenever the suspect strays into unauthorizes areas.l


4 replies
  1. D. Swords
    D. Swords says:

    Hi, Lee.

    Hope you’re feeling better.

    An additional twist on the home-breathalyzer. My court recently started using an ankle bracelet, similar to the one used for in-home monitoring, that detects alcohol in the skin. If a person drinks alcoholic beverage, the monitor can detect this in the skin and send a signal to a monitoring station. The next day, a probation officer can see the apparent violation and order a person to court, or cause the issuance of a warrant for their arrest

    It’s called a Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor, or SCRAM.

  2. Elena
    Elena says:

    Glad you are up to blogging again Lee, hope you are up to lots more than that!

    I can see the value of various electronic devices rather than incarceration, but I’ve been dubious about the “low-cost” claim. Besides the cost of the devices, there is extremely high overhead in 24/7 monitoring both in personnel and space requirements, plus the deployment of officers to pick up a straying device.

    Have there been any studies? Is there a break even point of a minimum number for maximum efficiency?

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