Hot topics were discussed at the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council Monday night at the Marathon County Courthouse.
Among many things discussed, the two main issues were regarding the establishment of a Drug Treatment Court and a proposal to expand the Jail's GPS system to reduce Jail census for low risk populations.
Because the county does not fall eligible for a TEDD grant to pay for a drug treatment court, it was discussed whether or not this was something the county needs and should try to make a cost plan work in the budget.
Marathon County District Attorney Ken Heimerman gave his opinion on why it is necessary for Marathon County to consider this option.
"It's undeniable that Marathon County has a surge of drug cases and drug problems," Heimerman said.
Other factors that support his view were the three main cases that drive crime in Marathon County, which in turn feed the overcrowding problem in the jail: drug, OWIs and domestic abuse.
"Anyone that looks at crime in Marathon County can tell there's been a noticeable up kick in drug crimes," Heimerman said.
Heimerman said drugs are the primary issue, and after further discussion, the council decided it's in the best interest of the community to find a way to budget for the drug treatment court.
The next item on the agenda was a proposal to expand the EMP/GPS system to reduce jail census for low risk populations.
Marathon County Chief Deputy Chad Billeb said the jail is busting at the seams, and they are over the about 300-spot capacity.
The need for more space sparked more conversation in the room.
"It's becoming a growing budgetary concern as well," Heimerman said. "Something needs to be done, and decisions need to be made."
Expanding the current program would allow more low risk inmates, after going through an assessment and getting approved, to be on a monitor system at home instead of being behind bars.
"By allowing people to go out on Huber (the monitor system), they leave here, and they're out here doing their job," Billeb said.
This would create more space in the jail for inmates that may be more dangerous.
It costs the jail $50 a day to house inmates each day, per inmate.
On the program, inmates pay $17 per day to stay out with the monitor equipment.
Billeb said this isn't a new option for counties, and a number of them use it in Wisconsin and have proven it successful.
"You're housing 40-50 people everyday," Billeb said. "If we continue at that rate, we will be paying in excessive $750,000 just to house inmates."
NewsChannel 7 will continue to follow the developing coverage as soon as updates are available.
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