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March 17, 2013

Longtime Essex County probation chief to retire

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“Scott was someone you could rely on. If he told you something would be done, it was done. I’m sorry the county is losing him.”

Addiction to alcohol and drugs is the issue behind most of the crimes where people wind up on probation, McDonald said.

Probation officers used to ask people if they were using drugs or alcohol, but technology has given them a more certain way of finding out.

“Now we have on-site drug testing,” McDonald said. “It’s an observed test, and it only takes a minute. Some of them (probationers) tried to use their kids’ urine or someone else’s urine, so we had to change the way it’s done.”

IGNITION INTERLOCK

The county recently got access to Secure Continuous Remote Alcohol Monitor (SCRAM) bracelets, he said, that test perspiration for alcohol content and report via the telephone network. 

The defendant pays $7 a day for the use of the system.

“Within an hour or so, we can get a phone call saying, ‘Johnny has consumed alcohol.’ For somebody who can’t stop drinking, it’s great, because they really have to stop in order to stay out of jail.”

The other device in the department’s arsenal is the ignition interlock, which is placed on the car of someone on probation for drunken driving and requires a breath test every time they drive.

Last year, the state made use of the devices mandatory as a requirement for a conditional driver’s license, and offenders are charged $100 a month for their use.

HOME VISITS

One person from Ticonderoga has been on and off probation throughout McDonald’s career.

“He’s our longest client. No one else is close,” he said. “We had someone from Lake Placid in the same situation, but he must have reformed.”

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