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24/7 Sobriety Program Summary

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The 24/7 Sobriety Program was launched in 2005, under the direction of South Dakota Attorney General Larry Long. Under this program, clients, who are generally on probation, are tested at least twice per day using a breathalyzer test (unless a transdermal testing option is used, see below) and subject to immediate jail time for positive test results. The program’s emphasis on swift, certain, and moderate sanctions has been compared to Hawaii’s Opportunity Probation with Enforcement (HOPE) model, which was associated with a reduction in both drug use and rearrests.1

One early modification to the program was the use of electronic monitoring equipment, which was added to expand program access to participants living far from testing sites or holding atypical work schedules. SCRAM, a transdermal 24/7 alcohol monitoring bracelet, detects alcohol use through perspiration emissions and is admissible in court with false positives at a rate of less than .5 percent.2

Montana 24/7 Sobriety Program

The Montana 24/7 Sobriety Program was piloted in 2010 and has since been expanded statewide. Program participants have been convicted of their second or subsequent DUI offense. Participants also may enter the program pre-trial and for any offense where alcohol or drugs were involved during the commission of the crime. Participants ordered to the program must either submit to twice daily alcohol testing at a local sheriff’s office or assisting agency, or agree to use a transdermal alcohol monitoring bracelet. The program also serves offenders convicted of drug-involved DUI; these individuals must submit to random urinalysis. A drug patch, which monitor’s drug use, also is used for up to 12 days. Participants must pay a $2 fee per day while on the program if using a breathalyzer test or up to $12 if using the transdermal bracelet. Drug patches cost participants about $50 and urinalysis costs them between $10 and $13 per test.

Participants who fail to appear for testing are in violation of the program and a violation form is issued. Once located, the individual is sanctioned according to a predetermined sanction matrix. Participants whose tests show use of alcohol or drugs also receive an immediate sanction for the violation.3

Evaluation findings

The focus on revoking drinking privileges has shown some success among repeat offenders under supervision.4 Evaluation of South Dakota’s 24/7 Sobriety Program found promising rates of supervised sobriety: 99.6 percent of alcohol tests were clean between 2005 and 2010.5 Research focusing on the use of SCRAM technology in South Dakota’s 24/7 program found a relationship between days under electronic supervision and subsequent DUI arrests. Lower rates of new arrests were seen among SCRAM participants, but only for the first two years post-treatment, and only for those with more than one DUI charge on record.6 A community-level impact was noted, however. Kilmer and colleagues (2013) reported significant reductions in county-level repeat DUI offenses (12 percent lower than comparison groups) and domestic violence offenses (9 percent lower) in South Dakota counties where 24/7 was administered.7

The Montana Department of Justice reported a 30 percent decrease in alcohol-related motor fatalities in 2013 and a 45 to 70 percent reduction in probability of re-arrest,8 which they attributed to their 24/7 Sobriety program.9

Limitations of prior research

There has only been one published, peer-reviewed evaluation of the 24/7 Sobriety program.10 That study focused on the program implemented in South Dakota. Although findings of the 24/7 Sobriety Program evaluation were generally positive, leading the National Institute of Justice to classify the program as “promising”, more replication is needed to determine whether those results can be transferred to other jurisdictions. Rigorous evaluation using quasi-experimental (matched control groups) or experimental design (random assignment) are needed to fully gauge the impact of the program on short-term and long-term drinking and driving behavior.

Implementation considerations

Program applicability across all jurisdictions is unknown. South Dakota is a primarily rural state. It is unknown whether a similar sobriety program could be implemented in states such as Illinois, which have rural, urban, and suburban communities. Related logistical factors, such as staffing, costs, twice-daily testing, and due process complications arising with immediate sanction responses are factors requiring further consideration.11 Piloting and evaluation of this strategy in a variety of settings is encouraged.

Implementation should occur at the county-level with the collaboration of judges, state’s attorneys, probation officers, and sheriffs. 24/7 Sobriety program requires cooperation across system players to ensure a swift response when offenders violate conditions. Failure to impose sanctions in a swift manner can dilute the offender’s perceived certainty of the punishment, which may result in greater non-compliant behavior.

Dedicated, available jail space may be needed to ensure swift sanctions if jail sanctioning is used. Short jail stays are the typical program response to participants who have used alcohol or fail to show up for testing. Lack of jail cell availability poses a risk to implementing swift sanctions and undermines the certainty of sanctions for non-compliant behavior. It is important to note that it is unknown whether jail sanctioning is necessary to produce participant compliance. Studies of swift, certain, and fair initiatives, which use similar immediate sanctioning practices to respond to non-compliant behaviors, have found that deterrence can be achieved using even relatively minor sanctioning options when done swiftly and certainly.12 Further research is needed to understand the amount and type of sanctioning needed to secure participant compliance and public safety outcomes.

Greater analysis should be devoted to understanding how costs are associated with participation and completion. Costs to maintaining the program have been offset by requiring participants to pay a programming fee, and this may prevent less financially-able offenders from participating in the program. Montana program costs include drug testing, use of the SCRAM bracelet, involving third-party monitoring and reporting, data management system maintenance, dedicated jail space, and law enforcement responses that ensure swift and certain sanctions for offenders who fail to appear for testing. A robust cost analysis and an examination of the impact of fees on program participation and successful completion are needed.

Additional research is needed to identify the types of offenders who would benefit most from program participation. Evaluation of the South Dakota 24/7 Sobriety Program revealed, to some degree, individuals with more than one prior DUI offenses were most successful with use of the SCRAM technology as compared to control groups. Researchers also noted that individuals between the ages of 21 and 29 years and 40 and 49 years had the highest re-arrest rates for every year examined,13 indicating that particular age groups may have distinct alcohol-related problems. Further study of this and its impact on successful program completion and recidivism, however, is needed before strong conclusions can be made.

References


  1. Hawken A, & Kleiman M. (2009). Managing drug involved probationers with swift and certain sanctions: Evaluating Hawaii’s HOPE. NCJ no: 229023. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice; 2009. Available at: https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/229023.pdf.
  2. Loudenburg, R., Drube, G., & Young, L. (2013). Analysis of 24/7 Sobriety Program SCRAM Participant DUI Offense Recidivism. Salem, SD: Mountain Plains Evaluation, LLC.
  3. Personal communication with Sergeant Lacie L. Wickum, 24/7 Coordinator, Montana.
  4. Long, L. (2009). The 24/7 sobriety project. Public Lawyer, 17(2), 2 — 5.
  5. Kilmer, B., Nicosia, N., Heaton, P., & Midgette, G. (2013). Efficacy of frequent monitoring with swift, certain, and modest sanctions for violations: Insights from South Dakota’s 24/7 sobriety project. American Journal of Public Health, 103(1), e37.
    Kilmer, B., & Humphreys, K. (2013). Losing your “license to drink”: The radical South Dakota approach to heavy drinkers who threaten public safety. The Brown Journal of World Affairs, 20(1), 267
  6. Loudenburg, R., Drube, G., & Young, L. (2013). Analysis of 24/7 Sobriety Program SCRAM Participant DUI Offense Recidivism. Salem, SD: Mountain Plains Evaluation, LLC.
  7. Kilmer, B., Nicosia, N., Heaton, P., & Midgette, G. (2013). Efficacy of frequent monitoring with swift, certain, and modest sanctions for violations: Insights from South Dakota’s 24/7 sobriety project. American Journal of Public Health, 103(1), e37.
  8. Midgette, G., & Kilmer, B. (2015). The Effect of Montana’s 24/7 Sobriety Program on DUI Re-arrest: Insight from a Natural Experiment with Limited Administrative Data. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation.
  9. Montana Department of Justice. (2015). The Montana 24/7 Sobriety Program. Helena, MT: Author. Retrieved from: https://dojmt.gov/247-sobriety-program/
  10. Kilmer, B., Nicosia, N., Heaton, P., & Midgette, G. (2013). Efficacy of frequent monitoring with swift, certain, and modest sanctions for violations: Insights from South Dakota’s 24/7 sobriety project. American Journal of Public Health, 103(1), e37.
  11. Fisher, D. A., McKnight, A. S., Fell, J. C. (2013, November). Intensive DWI supervision in urban areas—Feasibility study. (Report No. DOT HS 811 861). Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
  12. Hawken A, & Kleiman M. (2009). Managing drug involved probationers with swift and certain sanctions: Evaluating Hawaii’s HOPE. NCJ no: 229023. Washington, DC: National Institute of Justice; 2009. Available at: https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/229023.pdf.
  13. Loudenburg, R., Drube, G., & Young, L. (2013). Analysis of 24/7 Sobriety Program SCRAM Participant DUI Offense Recidivism. Salem, SD: Mountain Plains Evaluation, LLC.

Caitlin DeLong

Caitlin DeLong is an Authority research consultant whose work focuses on public health disparities, correctional best practices, and program evaluation. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology and master’s degree in criminology (with a concentration in violence prevention) from the University of Illinois Chicago.

Megan Alderden, Ph.D.

Megan Alderden is research director of the Authority’s Research & Analysis Unit and the Illinois Statistical Analysis Center. Ms. Alderden joined the Authority in June with 16 years of research experience in the field of criminal justice working as an academic and practitioner. Prior to joining the Authority, Ms. Alderden was an associate professor of criminal justice at Saint Xavier University, and preceding her work in academia, Ms. Alderden was a researcher for the Chicago Police Department and the Authority. Ms. Alderden’s most recent research focuses on sexual victimization and issues in policing. She is currently working as a co-principal investigator on a project examining evidence-based practices in homicide and sexual assault investigation in Illinois and on a federally funded study examining the impact of forensic evidence on prosecutorial decisions and court outcomes in sexual assault cases.

She is also a researcher with the National Police Research Platform, where her work focuses on police diversification, police culture, and the civilianization of police agencies. She has published in several government reports and articles in scholarly journals. Ms. Alderden received her doctorate of philosophy in criminal justice with a gender and women studies concentration from the University of Illinois at Chicago, her master of science degree in criminal justice from Michigan State University and her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Calvin College.