EDGECOMBE COUNTY, N.C. — Edgecombe County is testing a new, high-tech system designed to help get people with alcohol problems rehabilitated while freeing up jail space.
The device, called the SCRAM bracelet -- Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor -- has sensors that detect alcohol through the skin and send that data through a modem in the person's home to authorities. If the person wearing it drinks alcohol or tries to tamper with the monitor, they can be sent to jail.
"If someone's been caught drunk-driving, and we put them on this, we're trying to help. But they're also receiving a punishment too, but prison's not the answer for every situation," said Judge John Britt of the 7th District Court.
As part of the punishment, the person ordered to wear the bracelet must pay for the monitoring.
Julian Williams, who was ordered to wear the monitoring device 24 hours a day, said SCRAM is not just a better alternative to jail, but it is the best thing that has ever happened to him.
"I can feel myself feeling a whole lot better," Williams said. "I'm getting my self-confidence back, and I don't feel like I need to drink anymore."
Authorities will monitor Williams' case closely as they judge how well the program works.
Britt has sentenced six people in his district to wear the monitoring device, which has only been used for a few weeks.
So far, 13 of the 39 court districts in North Carolina are trying the SCRAM system, including Durham and Chapel Hill.