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Local Drug Court has success record over 20 years

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Treatment instead of jail time seems to be working well in La Crosse County, to break people of illegal drug habits. 

The county has operated a special Drug Treatment Court for 20 years, founded in 2002, and a study shows the program has a good record of helping drug offenders avoid repeat arrests. 

“Among successful participants on average, only 3.89 per cent had positive drug and alcohol tests throughout their time in the program,” says Tonya Van Tol, the county’s manager of justice support services. “There’s a 10 per cent benchmark that is set, so that is great.”    

Van Tol tells the county judiciary committee that the average length of time for people to take part in the drug court is 366 days.  The most successful court graduates stay with the program for a year-and-a-half.     

The Drug Treatment Court has gotten good marks from experts with the National Center for State Courts.

Van Tol describes the average candidate for drug court: “a white male between the ages of 25 and 34 who had a high school diploma or a GED.”

“Most of the participants were not married, they were unemployed coming into the program,” she says.   

Meth and heroin are the drugs used most frequently by the people who enter drug court. 

Van Tol says most participants also have at least one mental health issue, which may contribute to their addictions.  

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also 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. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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