The Shawano County Board showed full support for implementing a drug court in 2018. The approved drug court would be used for individuals who have a substance abuse problem, and who have been recommended to the program because they are asking for help. Marinette County Chief Judge James Morrison, brought his knowledge of the drug court system that is in place in Marinette County. He explained to the board that the program uses both intervention and treatment, so that after they complete the program, those individuals are ready to live better lives. Morrison said it does more than just help those individuals.
“You are not having houses broken into and these people are working” Morrison said.
The Judge also talked about the importance of securing funding for the program, even though the County does have some money budgeted.
“You will get the grants and you need the grants” he said. “You have to have them and you will get them because they are basically there for the asking. Money is not the issue here. Once you get this started, you are going to say ‘Why did we wait so long?”
County Behavioral Health Manger Jennifer Frost said the grants have been applied for.
“I have applied for two grants.” Frost said one was a Treatment and Alternatives Grant, and one was National Drug Court Association Planning Grant. “The county has to match 25 percent, according to the State” Frost said. “We will continue to apply for grants to make sure this stays in our community.”
The County has $155,000 budgeted for Drug Court, and that includes salaries, benefits and overall operation of the program. Once the cost is known, the intention is to have grant money cover 75% of the total costs, while the County pays the remaining 25% per established policy.
“We don’t what the first year is going to cost, so we budgeted what we felt was more than enough money” Shawano County Administrative Coordinator Brent Miller told TCHDailyNews.com. “We will have a better idea in year two, but the remaining money will go back to general fund” Miller said.
Shawano County Judge Bill Kuessel will be the judge presiding over drug court. Kuessel said he has experience with drug court as a prosecutor in Menominee County years ago. Kussell described the program as intensive with strict rules to follow.
The big advantage that they should get is that they should be drug free, and they have changed their way of life to the better.” Through his experience, Judge Kuessel spoke on the danger of drugs.
“It ruins their productivity, it ruins their future, it ruins their brain and their ability to be functioning citizens in our community. What drug court does is it gives people a chance to change their lives, it is not a get out of jail free card.”
The program is scheduled to begin in January of 2018, but those in the planning process say that may be an aggressive start date. Grants still need to be finalized and the program has to be put in place before it starts.