LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) – La Crosse County has been awarded a grant to help fund a new program to aid high-risk, high-need individuals.
Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen awarded La Crosse County a $147,268 grant to fund a Treatment Alternatives and Diversion, also known as “T.A.D.”, program. Van Hollen also awarded grants to 12 additional Wisconsin counties and one tribe.
Counties around the state of Wisconsin use the program to address non-violent offenders at high-risk of re-offending. The federal grant will help La Crosse County make drug court functions more efficient, while providing more information and transparency for courts and attorneys.
“Everyone sees this as a way to use research and use information to provide better services to the people who are arrested and who are victimized,” County Justice Support Services Manager Jane Klekamp said.
Klekamp describes the drug court process as a “different way to work with people who are addicted to drugs”, as La Crosse County uses specialized team services for certain individuals—as judges, defense attorneys, and prosecutors regularly see these individuals.
The grant helps expand these current services. “What this grant will do is it will give us the opportunity to interview every single person who comes into the justice system,” Klekamp said. The grant will help fund quick screenings for people who check into court for risk, substance abuse, and mental health. La Crosse County Board of Supervisors Chairperson Tara Johnson said when drug courts were first adopted in La Crosse, it was controversial.
“It really was just trying something different, especially in the criminal justice system. When you try new things, it makes people nervous, because we're talking about criminals,” Johnson said.
Johnson said she believes drug court is working in La Crosse County, and it's no longer controversial. “The outcomes for those participants are much better than those who don't go through the drug court process,” Johnson said.
Through the T.A.D. Program, 81% of graduates did not have any new convictions three years after finishing the program, and 97% of graduates of stayed out of state prison.
According to the program results, local T.A.D. Projects have saved counties $1.93 for every dollar invested. The grant will cover the program for one year, and Klekamp said the program “could expand as long as (the county) is interested”.
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