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County To Get Drug Court, TAD Grants

Marinette County’s Criminal Justice Committee received two pieces of good news at their monthly meeting on Friday morning, Jan. 17. First was that they will be receiving at least a portion of the grant they sought from the state Office of Justice Assistance to help combat the area’s growing opiate problem by establishing a Drug Court and Treatment Alternatives and Diversion (TAD) program. Second was that the county also has been selected to receive money from the National Drug Court system for training in connection with Drug Court and alternative programs.

Health and Human Services Director Robin Elsner, who will head the TAD program, reported that 38 counties had applied for TAD and Drug Court funding, and Marinette County was one of just 13 counties whose applications were successful. He said they will not be getting as much as requested, and the program budgets will have to be revised. County Administrator Ellen Sorensen said the exact grant amount is to be announced in a press release from the Attorney General’s office on Tuesday, Jan. 28, date of the next County Board meeting.

Judge James Morrison said the people in charge will meet with the Criminal Justice Committee on Friday, Jan. 24 to discuss ways to get the most benefit possible from the money allocated.

Morrison also reported he had applied separately for Drug Court training funds from the National Drug Court system, and was one of eight chosen for funding from a field of 65 applicants. He suggested that money can help cover expenses not included in the state grant.

The National Drug Court will send trainers here on April 8, 9 and 10 to work with the Marinette County planning team for three full days, “developing the nuts and bolts of our drug court.” This training, Morrison said, will be entirely at the expense of the federal government, and will replace the training dollars that had been in the state grant application. Morrison and District Attorney Allen Brey will attend the state convention but because of the local training will not need to attend the national convention.

Morrison, Brey and Public Defender Bradley Schraven and members of the drug treatment and law enforcement teams, including Elsner and his top aide Rob Valentine and Sheriff Jerry Sauve or a designee, should participate in the training.

“We want to be sure that everyone who has a dog in this fight is involved, to be sure we use the resources we have as effectively as we can,” Morrison declared.

Clerk of Courts Linda Dumke Marquardt wondered what involvement would be required from her office. Morrison said the Drug Court has two parts, pre-conviction and post conviction. He said as they see the program, there should be no extra work for her office. Elsner said the TAD coordinator will hire a person to monitor compliance with the Drug Court rulings. Marquardt asked who would be responsible for providing copies of rulings, etc., and Elsner said that would need to be worked out. Morrison suggested Dumke-Marquardt should attend the Jan. 24 meeting, as well as the training sessions in April.

As to payments from defendants for tests and court expenses, Elsner thought that money would go back to the TAD program, but again Morrison said Dumke-Marquardt should be there. State Rep. John Nygren is also planning to attend, Morrison said.

Meanwhile, Morrison said there are more than a dozen successfully functioning drug courts in Wisconsin, so there is no need to reinvent the wheel. He added the meeting on Jan. 24 is just to be sure they get the most benefit possible from the money allocated.

Sauve said at a Sheriff’s Association meeting the previous day there was discussion on just how popular the TAD and Drug Court programs are with the legislature right now.

“We’re building a new system, which will mean a change of agendas and the role of this committee,” Sorensen said.

Morrison said the most successful places established a criminal justice committee to handle it, “so we’re a step ahead.” He felt everyone on the Criminal Justice Committee should be involved in the TAD and Drug Court oversight committee. “We’ll have a lot to do in the next few months to make this work,” Morrison declared. He suggested they might meet more frequently, or have longer meetings.

Sorensen wondered how much longer they could meet. since the Personnel Committee schedules 9:30 a.m. meetings in the same room on the same day of the month.

Bryan Peth felt they could meet somewhere else,”if the Personnel Committee trumps this group.”

Morrison said he, Brey and Dumke-Marquardt would find it hard to attend meetings that last longer than 8:30 or 9 a.m., since the courts generally start at 8:30 a.m.

“Maybe we need a different committee with many of the people here on it,” Brey suggested. He felt they might need to meet once a week, at least for a while.

Morrison said once the program is up and running they will need a committee for ongoing supervision.

Jail Administrator Bob Majewski reported currently nine jail inmates are out on the “bracelet” monitoring system, but the jail population keeps going up. The average daily head count was over 131 in 2013, up from 55.87 in 2004.

Sauve commented the Criminal Justice Committee got started because of an overcrowding crisis at the jail.

“My staff is asking how we’re going to handle it when the jail population exceeds 150,” Majewski declared.

Elsner said the Drug Court will help.

Majewski noted the current jail inmate census includes 15 are being held pre-sentence on drug charges, four have mandatory jail time for DWI, many of those serving time for burglaries were drawn into it due to drug use, a dozen of the inmates were sentenced for drug related charges, and another 10 are OWI related.

Elsner said they have been talking with the state about a Suboxone Clinic, and seek to get personnel certified to manage it. “We don’t support methadone. We don’t want people on long term maintenance, we want to develop Seboxone treatment and get people off it and back to being productive members of society. We don’t want people coming here to get drugs!” Elsner declared. He told of some 30 Marinette people who have been going to Green Bay regularly for years to get Methadone, and they never do become productive citizens.

Elsner said Dr. Powers will get training on Suboxone treatment. There are also drugs that negate the effects of opiates, so people who take them do not get the effect they seek, but with them comes the danger of overdose because they keep trying.

State Correction/Supervision Officer Bobbie Christopherson said her office is starting some programs that the county can buy into, including a Day Reporting Center that they hope to have up and running by April. Their reporting will only be for post-conviction offenders, but perhaps the county could get its own contract with the same provider.


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