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The Third Branch

State grants support treatment court programs

Twelve Wisconsin counties and the Lac du Flambeau tribe have been awarded grants by the state Department of Justice (DOJ) to either start new drug treatment court programs or to support Treatment Alternatives and Diversion (TAD) programs.

"These programs have a proven track record of reducing recidivism, making good use of public dollars and meeting the needs of offenders while ensuring accountability," Atty. General J.B. Van Hollen said in a press release.

The total $1.5 million in grant money that was awarded was included as part of the 2013-15 state biennial budget to continue funding the TAD program, originally developed in 2005 to create and maintain problem-solving courts around the state, under the collaboration of the DOJ, Department of Corrections, Department of Health Services and the Director of State Courts Office. The programs target non-violent offenders dealing with drug and alcohol addictions, and focus on addressing their issues while providing treatment, with the goal of keeping them out of prisons and jails while reducing recidivism.

According to DOJ, the TAD program has saved $1.97 in incarceration fees for every dollar invested in the program. TAD has also been successful in reducing recidivism rates, with 81 percent of program graduates not having new convictions within three years of completing the program, and 91 percent staying out of prison.

The 36 applicants were screened by a 15-member panel, which selected four new drug court programs and nine programs under the TAD category.

The counties and tribe receiving funding are: Jefferson County (drug court - $112,714); Eau Claire County (TAD - $132,326); Pierce County (TAD - $82,120); Marinette County (TAD - $124,502); Waukesha County (TAD - $142,883); St. Croix County (TAD - $74,584); Waushara County (drug court - $125,000); Dodge County (TAD - $140,800); Trempealeau County (TAD - $58,303); Columbia County (drug court - $132, 096); Walworth County (TAD - $157,609); Lac du Flambeau (tribal court drug court - $130,190); and Kenosha County (TAD - $86,873).

Jefferson County Circuit Court Judge William Hue said the grant will help support the program that the county has been looking to fund for some time. Hue, who will serve as the OWI court judge in Jefferson County, said the program began with his initial inquiry to the county executive and corporation counsel, board of supervisors chair, sheriff, human services director, district attorney, and public defender's office, all of whom supported the idea.

Hue said they envision the court program serving about 30 individuals with three or more OWI offenses, and will work in conjunction with the criminal court judges.

"Should an individual successfully complete the program, they will have the skills to enable them to live a productive, alcohol-free lifestyle and have a significant amount of time reduced from their jail sentence," Hue said.

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