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Treatment Court gets boost in Marquette County
Several years ago Marquette County became part of a nationwide trend to offer evidence-based Treatment Court as an alternative to traditional sentencing for individuals whose addiction to drugs and alcohol were leading them down the wrong path with criminal activity. Evidence shows that many offenders who go through the traditional court system fall back into their old ways after being released. The goal of the program is to break the drug and alcohol addiction cycle that many have a hard time escaping.
Not every offender qualifies for Treatment Court. The program targets those who have a high risk of reoffending, but who show the potential to be rehabilitated. The offender has to complete an extensive program that can include drug tests, alcohol sensing bracelets, and community service. While the program does not require employment, it does provide assistance for gaining employment. A grant the county received this past year has brought more resources to the program.
Now an entire team, led by Treatment Court Coordinator Sheila Runge, performs a criminogenic evaluation on each candidate for the program and makes a recommendation for treatment. Those currently directly servicing the individuals are Marquette County Circuit Court Judge Ben Bult, District Attorney Chad Hendee, Attorney Mark Gumz (State Public Defender), Detective Scott Johnston, Sheriff Kim Gaffney, Community Corrections Agent Andrea Sawall and Supervisor Matt Stake, AODA Treatment provider Tiffany Schmit, Clinical Services Supervisor Jim Webb, Mental Health provider Wayne Koepke and Runge. The candidate also has to agree to be a participant in the program.
According to District Attorney Chad Hendee, “The idea of the program is to make someone a successful member of society. We have to decide what the best way is to get them there.” While some are resistant to participating in treatment court at first, “after awhile you see the light bulb go on and they get it. That is rewarding and makes you feel hopeful.”
There are many goals set for those in the program. “Sometimes the public perceives the offender as getting off or getting away with something.” Hendee went on to explain, “There is a lot of work involved in successfully completing treatment court. It is almost like a full-time job.”
Part of the sentence handed out by the judge can include participating in programs such as “Adopt-A-Highway,” which allows the participant to partake in something that gives back to the community, but is also rewarding for the individual by being a positive contributor to the community.
The program is partnering with businesses in the community for a “Healthy Hobbies” rewards program, but would also like to partner with area employers to give program participants the chance and the flexibility to maintain their program requirements while being gainfully employed in the community. “Many of the participants have driving restrictions and it is hard for them to find employment,” said Runge. “The businesses we have partnered with have found it to be worth it.” She continued, “We are thankful for those employers who are working with the participants to allow for that. Thus far, our participants have had to find workable employment mostly on their own.”
While there is an 84% graduation rate with the program, the team knows that breaking a drug or alcohol addiction doesn’t happen “cold turkey.” “We recognize that mistakes will be made,” stated Judge Bult. “There is tolerance if someone falls off. We are looking for continued progress.”
For more information on Neshkoro Area HCHY activities please contact Tara Chesebro.
Neshkoro news: Welcome Tara Chesebro to HCHY!
For more information on Endeavor Area HCHY activities please contact Sue Allen.
Endeavor News: To join the Endeavor EPIC parent's group, please contact Sue Allen. Bring the kids to play while parents talk.
For more information on Montello Area HCHY activities please contact Tiffany Lodholz.
Montello News: Montello's PIE group meets weekly on Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m. Parents and kids of all ages welcome. Learn more
In 2011, excessive alcohol consumption in Marquette County cost $17.7 million and contributed to at least 154 alcohol-related hospitalizations. View the full report.