Got Him By the Ankle

Former Congressman John Sweeney is scheduled to spend a little time in the slammer. He’ll be sentenced in April to thirty days in the Saratoga County Jail on DWI charges. That’s not exactly like going to Dannemora — but it’s what he has waiting for him when he gets out that really caught my attention. The TU reports:

After Sweeney is released from jail, he will be fitted with an alcohol detection ankle bracelet, a device that reveals the presence of alcohol in the wearer’s body. The system will allow Sweeney’s probation officer to monitor him from a computer.

Wow! Now that’s harsh.

So how does something like this work, anyway? He’ll be using  SCRAMx (Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor), a system that tastes your sweat to see if there’s alcohol in your system. The ankle bracelet (anklet?) doesn’t just monitor if you’ve been hitting the sauce, but it sends out a signal if you try to tamper with it or trick it by putting Saran Wrap around your leg.

The SCRAMx ankle bracelet looks unobtrusive, but it could definitely get in the way of your ski boots. I’m not sure if Mr. Sweeney is a man who favors shorts, but he’ll be wearing it all summer.

I’m curious if SCRAMx will go off if a drunk person touches you around the ankles (think about it) or if you are in an atmosphere where there’s a lot of booze. There’s nothing about that in the video.

The cost? $4000 that will be paid by Sweeney. That’s a little pricey, in case you think you’d like to put one of these on your teenager.

8 thoughts on “Got Him By the Ankle

  1. Any details about when he will be driving again? I didn’t read that in any articles about his sentencing. Is that the purpose of this device- to make sure he is sober when driving? Alcoholism and alcohol abuse are not crimes, and people are not fitted with ankle devices to ensure they are sober while washing their dishes, are they?

  2. @momto1 – I had to think for a minute about what you meant by the dish-washing comment.

    In cases like these, it’s most often part of a plea agreement, that being released into public is reliant on the perp obstaining from any and all drugs and alcohol. It’s actually a common practice, hence drug tests when someone goes to see their probation officer. So no, this doesn’t mean he’ll be driving, it’s just a way to make absolutely sure he will not drink. Sweeney’s established, through this and other instances, that when he drinks he’s a danger to himself and to others. He has a very serious and dangerous problem that requires a very serious solution.

    It’s also worth noting that DWIs/DUIs are not the only alcohol-related instances on Sweeney’s record.

    The cynic in me has to ask how often this option is given, and how it affects people who wouldn’t be able to afford the anklet – i.e. do they serve more jail time instead?

  3. Doesn’t seem to matter, if we are to beleive the TU’s stories about non-violations of parole/probation individuals.

  4. Kevin- That’s good news. I’m aware of Sweeney’s other alcohol-related alleged offenses. I’m still curious about license. Drunk drivers get their licenses back much sooner than they should in most cases.

    What are you saying? You believe our legal system treats the affluent and politically connected differently than the poor? How cynical of you.

  5. Excellent point, Kevin. It would be deeply unfair if Mr. Sweeney received special treatment just because he can afford the $4000 ankle bracelet. We aren’t the only ones thinking about this. From today’s TU story:

    It will cost Sweeney $4,000 to use the bracelet — an expense not everyone can afford, said Saratoga County District Attorney James Murphy III.

    “They are extraordinarily expensive, and I worry about an equal protection argument,” Murphy said.

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