Guide to Wisconsin SCRAM Ankle Bracelets

SCRAM bracelets (or “Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring” bracelets) enable courts to observe the drinking habits of those instructed by that court not to consume alcohol. They are mostly used by individuals convicted of a DUI or driving under the influence.

How Do they Work?

The bracelet is attached to the ankle and works by taking a sample of the air surrounding it roughly every half an hour. Included in this air collection is the sweat from the skin of the wearer. It has been proven that 1% of what you drink can be found in sweat. SCRAM ankle monitor are even more sensitive than Breathalyzers, used to measure alcohol consumption through the breath, but the technology is the same.

There are two parts to the SCRAM ankle bracelet itself. The first part contains a sensor pack. This is what tests the air around the bracelet and specifically the vapor that comes off the skin. It is what detects alcohol. The results are transmitted from the bracelet to a modem and can be interpreted and read by the private company. SCRAM bracelets are worn for 90 days typically reduce the risk of a repeat offense by a large amount. Some people try to trick the bracelet by submerging the ankle in water or placing meat between the skin and the ankle. It has been reported that 40,000 people have tried to trick the sensor in one way or another.

The second part contains all of the electronics that detect whether or not the ankle bracelet has been tampered with. Alcohol can show up in sweat for up to 12 hours, so usually these tricks fail. This second part of the SCRAM bracelet has temperature monitors, an infrared sensor that measures the exact reflections of skin, secure strap and battery sensor and software for self-testing. All of these things can detect if the monitor is being tampered with or if anything aside from skin is being pressed against the sensor.

Attempting to fool the bracelet can result in:

● Loss of bond money

● Revoked probation

● More jail time than initially issued

Are They Accurate and Humane?

SCRAM bracelet readings are extremely accurate. Scientific tools must be to be admissible in court. Lie detectors are not reliable enough to admitted into court proceedings, but SCRAM bracelets are. There would have to be powerful evidence that the bracelet was malfunctioning to get the bracelets data dismissed.

There have been complaining that the SCRAM bracelet infringes upon the defendant’s privacy. However, the bracelet is used as a condition of probation or parole. It serves as a way to avoid jail time, which means it threatens the defendant’s civil rights less than incarceration. Courts cannot dictate alcohol monitoring without evidence that the individual has a drinking problem.

How Much Do They Cost?

The defendant actually has to pay for the bracelet. There is a one-time installation fee of up to $100 and a fee for daily monitoring of up to $15. This can mean a total price of up to $450 that is paid by the defendant.

How Do They Differ from Breathalyzers?

The SCRAM bracelet differs from Breathalyzers in these ways:

● Measures alcohol content in the body consistently and is attached to the body

● The point of Breathalyzers is to see if someone is over the legal limit, SCRAM bracelets require zero alcohol consumption

● While wearing a SCRAM bracelet, you must be within 30 feet of the base station at the time of the data download

● You can be penalized for submerging the SCRAM bracelet in water

● The SCRAM bracelet can be affected by pre-existing conditions such as pregnancy, diabetes or skin allergies.