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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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TAD, Drug Court May Be Realities By Aug. 1

The Drug Court and TAD (Treatment Alternatives and Diversion) system that will be part of a new season of HOPE for heroin and opiate drug addicts who get into the Marinette County Court system may be underway by Aug. 1, Circuit Court Judge Jim Morrison reported at the county’s Criminal Justice Committee meeting on Friday, April 18. Once the programs get up and running, that group will become the oversight committee.

The meeting marked the end of a particularly busy two weeks for Morrison and others on a subcommittee working to set up the “nuts and bolts” of programs aimed at getting or keeping addicts out of jail and back into lives as productive members of society.

The programs will be functions of the Health and Human Services Department. HHSD Administrator Robin Elsner introduced Sara Plansky Pecor, who was recently named TAD Coordinator. Pecor is a veteran of 23 years with the local HHSD, most recently as a child abuse investigator.

Pecor, Morrison, Sheriff Jerry Sauve, Probation and Parole Officer Bobbi Christopherson, DHSS ADAPT Clinic Director Rob Valentine, District Attorney Allen Brey, Assistant District Attorneys Kent Hoffman and DeShea Morrow, Public Defender Brad Schraven, and Pete Mayhew, superintendent of St. Thomas Aquinas Academy underwent three days of intensive training with Drug Court experts from Washington, DC in the Marinette County Courthouse during the week of April 7 through 11. Mayhew is a volunteer who was invited to join the group as a statistician and outside evaluator for the Drug Court and TAD work. Together this group, a subunit of the Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee, is doing the nuts and bolts assembly of Marinette County’s HOPE (Heroin Opiate Prevention and Education) program.

The in-house training for the people who will be most directly responsible for these programs was provided without cost to Marinette County thanks to a grant obtained by Morrison.

That training was followed by a three-day conference in LaCrosse last week attended by Pecor, Morrison and Schraven, as well as Morrow and Brey for the last two days.

The TAD and Drug Courts are possible because of four new laws that Gov. Scott Walker signed in the Marinette County Courthouse on Monday, April 7, plus three others that he signed elsewhere. These laws include funding and other assistance for the new programs. They comprise a package called “HOPE” , introduced by Rep. John Nygren of Marinette.

The intent is to implement new and hopefully better ways to treat and prevent heroin addiction and punish those who continue abusing the drug. Statistics show that currently 100 percent of prisoners jailed for heroin abuse and not treated promptly re-offend and end up back in jail. HOPE is intended to change that.

One of the bills provides funds for Drug Courts and TAD, through which Marinette County has received a $124,502 grant. The county match of $94,183 is to come from existing program funds and savings expected from reducing the number of jailed drug offenders, or at least the lengths of their stays.

TAD is one portion of the HOPE package, the Drug Court is the other.

Criminal Justice Committee members are Judge Morrison, Brey, Schraven, Sheriff Sauve, Clerk of Courts Linda Dumke-Marquardt, Elsner, County Board Supervisor Cheryl Wruk (as a member of the Law Enforcement Committee), John Mabry, Corina Dionne, Christopherson, Marinette High School Principal Corrie Lambie, Bryan Peth, and Jail Administrator Bob Majewski, who chaired the meeting in the absence of County Administrator Ellen Sorensen, chairman.

Morrison reported that in LaCrosse they had seen a veteran’s court and a drug court in action and learned about best practices used by other drug courts that already are successful in other areas. “We’re stealing shamelessly from Milwaukee County and others,” he declared.

He said their goal is to have the first clients in the Marinette County drug court and/or TAD by the first of August. Marinette County will become the 24th county in Wisconsin to have a drug court.

A major question addressed in the training is how to get quickly from arrest to disposition of a case, since evidence shows if treatment doesn’t start within 50 days of an arrest it is unlikely to be successful. Other evidence shows prompt punishment following arrest is the most effective deterrent. Today it takes 150 to 180 days from arrest to disposition, with those days often being spent in jail at taxpayer expense. Morrison believes with the help of TAD they can cut the pre-trial days in jail down to the 50-day goal. Every 100 days they can keep someone out of jail saves taxpayers $12,000, Morrison said.

He said this does not mean they will be “soft” on offenders. The TAD programs are often so tough that offenders volunteer to return to jail rather than try to comply. Components of a very effective “hard” program include detox, regular counseling, and urine tests twice a week. “We want them to be taxpayers, not tax consumers - we want them to be building cabins, not robbing them!”

“In a month or so, we want to come to you and report on our progress,” Morrison told the group. “You’ll be our oversight/steering committee.”

He said Sorensen and Corporation Counsel Gale Mattison advised them to continue as a working group so they don’t need to worry about Open Meetings Law regulations.

Elsner pointed out it is important they educate the local Bar Association and law enforcement people,”this is critical.” He said Pecor has been on the TAD payroll since the previous Tuesday and they have started developing policies and procedures.

Talk of the TAD and drug court started about a year ago, and Morrison said everybody tells them it takes a year from thought to reality, so they are right on schedule if they are ready to start on Aug. 1. It was in August of 2013 that serious talk of the projects began, and in September Elsner was authorized to apply for the grant that is to finance the program’s start.

Elsner said he, Valentine and Dr. Guy Powers have been talking about setting up a Suboxone Clinic as a temporary treatment for opiate addicts being handled through TAD and the drug court, but he stressed they do not intend to open it up to becoming a regional center for Suboxone as a maintenance drug. “None of us want to do that,” he declared.

In other business, Jail Program Coordinator Ellen Hanneman reported on educational programs in the jail, and Majewski expressed concern about lack of a system for keeping track of conditions imposed on persons released on bond.

Jail population is down from last year, Majewski said. Average for the past month has been 114 in jail and 10 out on electronic monitoring. Last year in March the average was 141.

Four persons arrested on OWI charges are out of jail on “SoberLink,” and “nobody has taken off or screwed up lately,” Majewski reported.

Majewski said when prisoners are released on bond the judge almost always sets some conditions. “The guy knows it and we know it, but there’s nowhere in our system for the information to be plugged in,” he said. They used to give that information to dispatch, but apparently nothing is done with it from there. He said 911 Administrator Kirsten Bellisle came to him recently to ask why dispatch gets that information, since there is nothing they can to do with it at this time.

They had a conversation about what might be done to enforce the bond rules. As an example he said a person might be on bond with a condition to not drink, but an officer walking into a bar would not necessarily know that.

Clerk of Courts Linda Dumke Marquardt said the bond restrictions are all posted on C-Cap, except that when “no contact” is ordered they use no names, just initials. She suggested when officers stop someone they could look on C-Cap.

“There’s only so much time,” Sauve said, adding that an officer who stops someone would probably not have time to look everything up on C-CAP. He said once in his career he had come across a person in a bar and another officer had told him he had just been in court with the person, “and he’s not supposed to be here.”

Sauve added since his department is so small, officers usually know who’s just been in jail, and they may look up the conditions. He wondered if his department could be held accountable if they fail to enforce bond restrictions. Marquardt said most of the time it is not officers who report someone for violating a bond condition, “it’s patrons who saw it on C-Cap.”

For the next meeting Sorensen is to bring information obtained at La Crosse on a program they described as “TAD on steroids,” in which officers do an evaluation right in the squad car.

Schraven reported that Christopherson had received funding from the state for a daily Parole and Probation reporting center. There has been discussion in the past on possible use of a daily reporting center for the TAD program, and on the possibility that the county TAD clients could also report to that facility.

The next meeting of the Criminal Justicecoordinating committee is set for 8 a. m. Friday, May 16.


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