How well do ankle monitors keep track of criminals? - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

How well do ankle monitors keep track of criminals?

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(CBS 8) - This week an L.A. judge ordered actress Lindsay Lohan to wear an alcohol monitoring bracelet. The same type of bracelet is also being used here in San Diego to make sure people who have been ordered by the court not to consume alcohol are not drinking.

You could call it a different kind of bling. Alcohol-monitoring bracelets -- called SCRAM - use the same technology as a breathalyzer, but instead of checking your breath for alcohol it checks the perspiration on your skin.

"As the alcohol evaporates through the skin, the device collects it and measures it and communicates with the modem. The modem then sends a message to a monitoring center and it uploads at the end of the day," Mack Jenkins of the county probation department explained.

The device then gives a probation officer a printout that documents body temperature and alcohol consumption every 30 minutes over a 24-hour period.

Currently, 25 people are wearing SCRAM devices in San Diego County.

A judge has ordered actress Lindsay Lohan to don the eight-ounce ankle bracelet, leaving many to question just how effective the device really is.

"Obviously it's there all the time so it's a constant reminder that if you do drink, the person has to think twice before engaging in that behavior. It doesn't stop everybody, but in our department right now since the beginning of the year, we've had 50 people use the SCRAM device," Jenkins said. "Through those 50 people this year, we've only had four violations."

And while SCRAM isn't foolproof, it does have a tamper sensor that gets activated if you try to remove the device or try any other creative way to cheat the system.

"It's pretty effective. It's not something that's easy to beat," Jenkins said.

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