Walworth County drug treatment court on schedule for July 1st start date

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Andrea Anderson
Saturday, April 12, 2014

ELKHORN—Walworth County Judge David Reddy is optimistic the county's drug treatment court will launch on or near the July 1 goal.

"We had projected a July 1st start date, and I think we're still within the realm of possibility," Reddy said.

At a Friday Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee meeting, county officials discussed the progress of treatment court planning. 

Planning began in January, when the county received a $157,609 recurring grant from the Wisconsin Department of Justice funding the new treatment court.

An advisory committee is working out final program plan and handbook details, and human resources is preparing to advertise the program's drug court clinician position, said David Thompson, deputy director of health and human services.

The drug treatment court is for Walworth County residents charged with possession of heroin.

The goal of the treatment courts is to reduce recidivism.

Reddy is leading the efforts to create the drug court and will oversee it. He also oversees the county's OWI court that began in October 2011 and serves as the model for the drug court.

Defendants in OWI court learn how to leave their destructive lifestyles behind and start fresh through bi-weekly meetings, random drug and alcohol testing and individual counseling.

At a January committee meeting, officials came to a general consensus about certain drug court details. However, because treatment details are not finalized, they are subject to change, Katie Behl, treatment court coordinator, said.

At the January meeting, officials discussed the drug court program should:

-- Require participants to spend 30 to 60 days in jail for detox.

-- Consist of three, 16-week phases with six months of aftercare.

-- Have mandatory bi-weekly meetings for participants.

-- Have random drug and alcohol tests up to five times a week.

-- Require participants to be drug free for a minimum of 90 days before moving to the next phase.

Final planning is “kind of in limbo” and will likely be completed by the end of May or early June after the treatment plan is complete, Behl said.

A potential incentive for defendants to participate is having felony drug convictions dismissed at the completion of the program. A final decision on this has not been made.

At the January meeting, Walworth County District Attorney Daniel Necci suggested the program initially be open to 10 to 15 defendants.

Behl said that is still the plan.

The clinician position will be a county employee and funded by the grant. The position is budgeted for $90,280, including salary and benefits.

Among other things, the clinician will be responsible for drug treatment, running treatment groups, doing assessments and helping in detox, Behl said.

“Typically, the drug court population have co-occurring disorders," Behl said. "It's not just one issue.They have substance abuse, but they could also be bipolar, or they could have anxiety or depression, and so a lot of that is what's driving their substance usage.”

Behl, Reddy, and other county officials attended a treatment court in DeKalb County, Ill., in March.

Reddy said he learned drug court and OWI court are going to be different.

“They're a whole different type of individual we have to deal with," Reddy said.

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