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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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County Gets $124,502 Drug Treatment Grant

Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen on Tuesday, Feb. 4 officially announced that Marinette County will receive a grant of $124,502 to help combat the severe local opiate/heroin problem that has jammed the county jail and raised local crime rates for the past several years.

County Board, while not officially advised of the amount of the grant, had approved the required $82,000 in county matching funds at its regular monthly meeting on Tuesday, Jan. 28.

The Marinette County Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee has been actively working toward establishing a TAD (Treatment Alternatives and Diversion) program and Drug Court. The grant money approved is allocated specifically for the TAD program. Marinette County Circuit Court Judge James Morrison, a very pro-active member of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee, reported to them on Friday, Jan. 17 that he had applied successfully for a separate Federal grant that can be used for training and other expenses connected with establishing the Drug Court.

Van Hollen’s news release announced that $1.5 million in grants has been awarded to 12 counties and one tribe for the establishment of specialty court and pre-trial diversion projects through a highly competitive selection process and a 15-member review panel.

Marinette County’s $124,502 is tagged for setting up the Treatment Alternatives and Diversion program, also known as “TAD,” which is used by counties to establish programs to address non-violent offenders at higher risk of re-offending. The Drug Court is another segment of the total program, and some of the grants awarded to Wisconsin Counties are to be used to set up Drug Courts.

“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,” Attorney General Van Hollen said.  “I’m pleased I was able to work with lawmakers to improve public safety in this manner.”

 Van Hollen said through rigorous program evaluation, the TAD program has proven to be effective at both increasing public safety while also reducing costs of local criminal justice systems.  Eighty-one percent of TAD graduates did not have any new convictions after three years and 97% of TAD graduates stayed out of state prison after completing their TAD program. While greatly reducing these recidivism rates, local TAD projects also save on average $1.93 for every one dollar invested.

Health and Human Services Director Robin Elsner, who will be in charge of the TAD portion of the program for Marinette County, reported to the Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee on Friday, Oct. 18, that prior to the deadline on Oct. 17, he had submitted application to the Wisconsin Department of Criminal Justice for $285,349 in grant funds to help establish a local TAD program and related Drug Court here in 2014. The required county match would come from programs and personnel already provided through county departments, mainly his, Elsner said.

The grant is for a two year process, but application will need to be submitted again for additional funding next year, Elsner said. He expects need then to be less, because the costs of equipment and training will already be covered.

The Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee on Friday, Jan. 17 was informed that Van Hollen’s office had approved a grant for their program, but not as much as they had asked for. They were not certain of the amount, which falls $160,000 short of their request. He said the budget will need to be adjusted for the lesser amount.

Elsner said 38 counties had applied for TAD and Drug Court funding, and Marinette County was one of just 13 successful applicants.

At the Jan. 17 meeting Morrison reported his successful quest for Drug Court training funds from the National Drug Court system. Marinette County was one of eight chosen for funding from a field of 65 applicants. He suggested the federal 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.

County Administrator Ellen Sorensen said when the decision was made to apply for the grant that no new county taxes will be levied for the program. The county’s matching share will be provided by existing personnel, facilities and diversion from other programs. However, she felt the alternative treatments eventually could reduce jail and law enforcement expenses here if the goal of reducing repeat offenses is achieved.


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