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Report: Rock County Drug Court doing well but could improve

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Ted Sullivan
February 19, 2011
— The Rock County Drug Court meets national standards and is achieving its goals but improvements could help the program, according to an independent report.

The program has a high retention rate and its participants have a high rate of remaining drug free, the report stated. Drug court graduates also have a low rate of being convicted of new crimes.


The program, however, needs to develop policies and procedures to have a clear mission for staff members and participants, according to the report.


Drug offenders not in the program should be tracked to create a control group to compare to offenders in the program, the report stated. A comparison group would allow the county to measure drug court participantsí success against similar offenders not in the program.


Paul Gregory, a sociologist with UW-Whitewater, evaluated the Rock County Drug Court. He presented his report Thursday to the criminal justice coordinating council.


The drug court aims to provide criminal offenders an alternative to jail or prison. The program provides treatment to rehabilitate offenders with drug problems to keep them from committing new crimes.


Gregory said Rock Countyís program mirrors other drug courts in the nation and makes a big impact because it accepts many offenders. He said the program is performing well compared to others.


The drug court should partner with law enforcement and other agencies to provide 24-hour surveillance of its participants, Gregory said. Monitoring participants day or night with check-ins and drug tests would help ensure compliance.


Written policies would help the program meet its goals and make its evaluations more measurable, he said, acknowledging staff members have started writing a manual.


The drug court also needs to find ways to keep participants longer because they often need more than 90 days of rehab before they begin changing, Gregory said. Among the one-third of participants discharged from the program, 33 percent left in about 90 days.


Neil Deupree, chairman of the criminal justice coordinating council, said the program has had difficulty finding offenders for a comparison group. He said it has been a problem since the drug court began.


Judge James Daley said itís hard to find local offenders who compare well with people in the drug court. He said matches must be found in key factors such as drug addiction, criminal charges and other relevant background.


Gregory said tracking one offender in Rock County for every offender in the drug court would be preferred. He said the key is to find offenders with at least five similar variables.


Matches are never perfect, Gregory said. Drug of choice and criminal offenses committed are the important similarities for comparison.


By the numbers

-- Negative drug tests: 88 percent


-- Drug Court retention rate: 71 percent


-- Number of graduates studied who committed crimes within a year or more after graduation: 2


-- Crime rate among graduates: 0.15


-- Crime rate among non-graduates: 0.37


-- Recidivism rate for graduates: 0.04


-- Recidivism rate for non-graduates: 0.19



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