Treatment Court

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Crawford County 

anticipates benefits 

of treatment court

By Ted Pennekamp

 

Crawford County is in the process of creating a treatment court as an alternative to incarceration in order to help offenders fight addiction, get their lives back on track and become productive members of the community.

“Incarcerating people with addiction issues isn’t effective because we haven’t gotten to the root of the problem,” said Circuit Court Judge Lynn Rider, who noted the county has received a $100,000 treatment court grant from the Wisconsin Department of Justice. The grant is for $75,000 and the county will make an in-kind contribution of $25,000, which can be offset by cost savings and other benefits for the county because the offenders are not in jail, for example. The grant will likely be renewed each year for five years to get the treatment court up and running. After five years, the treatment court will be on its own.

The county is seeking to hire a part-time treatment court coordinator by April 1 and is hoping to accept participants by July, said Rider.

The treatment court will consist of a seven-person team including Judge Rider, the district attorney, a defense attorney, the treatment court (administrative) coordinator, a probation and parole representative, a law enforcement representative and a treatment provider, who will be a person who is certified in alcohol or other drug abuse (AODA) treatment to oversee the treatment of each participant.

Rider said the team will meet every other week to discuss the progress of each participant and the progress of the treatment court.

“The treatment court is for high-risk individuals who really need treatment,” said Rider. “This is for people who are facing substantial jail time or prison. The treatment court is not for first-time offenders or other low-risk individuals.”

Rider said participants will need to put a lot of work into the program in an effort to change their behavior. In addition to undergoing AODA treatment, they will participate in weekly meetings. There will also be random drug testing twice a week. Participants will also be required to be in court every other week. Treatment court will usually last 18 months for each participant. The possibility of substantial jail time or prison should, hopefully, also be an incentive to do well in the treatment court program and to get each participants’ life back on track.

Rider said there are many benefits to the county if an addict gets proper treatment and changes his or her behavior. They are not in jail. They have a job and are productive, tax paying citizens. Their family life becomes better, their children are no longer in foster care and they are no longer committing crimes in order to feed their addiction.

Rider noted that the treatment court needs detailed documentation in order to show that the treatment court is working and to keep the treatment court grant.

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