By JEFF ORTEGA
COLUMBUS -- Mahoning County Juvenile Court is one of four such courts in the state that will use ankle bracelets to determine whether juvenile offenders violate alcohol-related sentencing requirements.
Through a $50,000 state grant, Ohio Attorney General Jim Petro bought 14 of the Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitoring Units.
Five of the units have been sent to Mahoning County's juvenile court, four to Lucas County's juvenile court, three to Richland County's juvenile court, and two to Knox County's juvenile court for a two-year pilot study, the attorney general's office said.
Petro's office said Monday the counties had to apply for equipment.
"This program employs the use of cutting-edge technology to alert the courts any time these youngsters consume alcohol," Petro, a Republican, said in a statement.
"Knowing that they will get caught also serves as a deterrent for those who might otherwise be compelled to violate the terms of the treatment plan and probation rules," Petro added.
The equipment -- bought from Colorado-based Alcohol Monitoring Systems Inc. -- consists of electronic ankle bracelets that sample an offender's sweat every hour, 24 hours a day to measure that person's blood-alcohol content, an AMS statement says.
Juvenile judges in the four counties will be able to mandate juvenile drug court participants to wear the units as a requirement of their probation, the attorney general's office said.
The AG's office will pay for the monitoring costs -- $5.30 per day -- for 292 days of use for each unit.
The participating juvenile courts will be required to use the units at least 180 days per year during the project period.
At the end of the pilot project period, the participating juvenile courts are to review and report their evaluations to the AG's office.
If it proves successful, the program could be implemented statewide, the attorney general's office said.
Used on adults
The bracelets have been used primarily on adult offenders across the country, said Dick Irrer, a Michigan-based region manager for AMS.
The equipment hit the market in 2003 and since then more than 14,000 offenders -- primarily adults -- have been on it nationwide, Irrer said.
The bracelets have had been used sparingly on juvenile offenders, Irrer said.
Anthony D'Apolito, the administrator of the Mahoning County Juvenile Court, said the court is happy to receive the equipment.
"We're always looking for alternatives to having to detain a youth without compromising the safety of the community or the safety of the youth," D'Apolito said. "This is a new alternative and we're excited about it."