Date of Graduation

Spring 2017

Document Type

Honors Research Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Major

Sociology - Criminology and Law Enforcement

Research Sponsor

Dr. Stacey Nofziger

First Reader

Dr. Matt Lee

Second Reader

Dr. Robert Peralta

Abstract

Alcohol is a common thread in the fabric of American culture. This ever-expanding industry continues to benefit the economy, however the success is not without a cost to communities across in the United States as alcohol is a leading contributor to criminal activity. Laws related to crimes in which alcohol is a driving factor have evolved in recent years which has inspired the development of new tools available to assist in reducing alcohol use and abuse. One such tool, which was developed in the 1990s and is now used by the criminal justice system across the country, is the Secured Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring (SCRAM) bracelet. Widespread utilization of this transdermal alcohol monitoring tag encourages and ensures the sobriety of high risk offenders while also providing the criminal justice system with an alternative to incarceration and a safeguard to the public. However, this does not come without a cost to participants in SCRAM programs.

Labeling theory suggests society’s tendency to assign labels – both physical and verbal – to those who deviate from societal norms only contributes to, if not reinforces deviant behavior. In the case of offenders ordered to wear the alcohol monitoring device, it is my contention that the individual and societal benefits outweigh the stigmas consistent with traditional sociological notions. To investigate this hypothesis, defendants who were subject to the SCRAM bracelet in one Ohio court were surveyed about their experiences in the program. Their candid reactions illustrated a color picture about the benefits and pitfalls of the tangible tag.

Generally, the survey results suggest that, although defendants may have been experienced some minor physical discomfort and extrinsic stigmatization, the benefits of their sobriety superseded the negative aspects of their monitoring.