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Monday - April 16, 2018 2:30 am

La Crosse DA discusses repeat offenders

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La Crosse's top prosecutor is concerned about the same people being sent to jail over and over.

District Attorney Tim Gruenke, however, says that doesn't mean the city is becoming less safe.

Gruenke recently presented his year-end report for 2017 to the county law committee, noting that a big reason for an increase in felonies is bail jumping. The record number of felonies filed in La Crosse County this year can be partially attributed to bail jumping — 20 percent, in fact.

Gruenke told a La Crosse County committee that many of the people who end up going back to jail are addicts who need money.

“It's mostly committing the crimes, which is, again, feeding that habit, trying to get money to feed that habilt — stealing or in some way being under the influence for committing a crime,” Gruenke said.

Gruenke also talked about the complaints he hears about judges returning people to the streets, only to commit more crimes.

“It’s a legitimate concern,” Gruenke said. “I could see why people would say that. These are people on bond that are not following the rules that are supposed to be following the rules and not committing more crimes.

“On the other hand, the number of felonies shouldn’t indicate an increase in violence.”

Gruenke says it’s more an inability of people to control a drug or alcohol habit that is often the reason why many released prisoners return to jail.

“Usually, if people make it through the first month on bond they’ll be fine,” Gruenke said. “Mostly people are, within a week or two, recommitting because they’re in that crisis mode — whatever is going on in their life is still going on. That’s why they usually come back pretty quick.”

Gruenke says releasing some prisoners with monitor bracelets may help keep them out of trouble, but a bracelet might not be enough to break someone of a substance addiction.

Last modified on Monday - April 16, 2018 6:50 am
Brad Williams

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from U-W-La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area.  Brad writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse.  He's been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.  

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