Newly appointed Criminal Justice Coordinator, Kristin Boland, joined the Polk County Board of Supervisors’ meeting on November 12 to relay all the work she has been doing for the county since beginning her role in May, focusing specifically on Criminal Justice Collaborating Council’s programs.
The Criminal Justice Collaborating Council (CJCC) was established in 2008, transitioned to a 501 (c) (3) a few years later and then returned to the county in January 2019. Boland explained that the “transition is nearly complete,” while still upholding the mission of lower recidivism rates and upholding current policies.
Since May, Boland has attempted to switch the mode of decision making in the CJCC from emotional decision-making, which “leads to a lot of bias,” to evidence-based decision making.
Boland defines the main reason for this change as ensuring offenders may be treated rather than incarcerated; the latter often promotes future offences.
According to Boland, the United States holds 5 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of the world’s prisoners: “That number is too high and we can do better,” she says.
Treatment Court Program
Probably the strictest program, Boland states that Treatment Court’s purpose is “to improve the safety of our citizens and reduce the destructive cycle of substance use and mental health disorders.”
Requirements for this program include: must be residents of Polk County, must be at least 17 years old, must have a substance use disorder, must be at medium or high risk on the COMPAS assessment, must have a qualifying legal charge, may not have participated in a Treatment or Drug Court in the past three years, may not be working as an informant for law enforcement, may not currently or prior have a felony sexual offense and may not be a violent offender.
During this program, participants are susceptible to two to three drug tests each week, 60 hours of community service, therapy and weekly meetings with parole officers among other requirements.
First Time Offender Program
This program targets those offenders who are “typically law-abiding citizens,” and have “made a mistake,” according to Boland.
With this audience in mind, the First Time Offender Program aims to provide an opportunity for participants to stay out of the justice system and have committed non-violent misdemeanors or engaged in low level felony behavior, with no prior criminal record.
Participants who complete a two hour class, pay a $200 fee and remain crime free for six months will not receive formal charges.
Treatment Alternative Diversion Program, TAD
The TAD Program helps individuals with substance use issues and non-violent felony level behavior, aiding those people in the middle.
Eligibility depends on Polk County residence, an age of at least 17, are at low risk on the COMPAS assessment, agree to a substance use diagnosis and have not committed violent offences.
These participants work with a case manager to develop an individualized case plan to “address needs and put an end to criminal behavior,” says Boland. Taking six to twelve months to complete, participants who are successful do not receive formal charges.
Community Service Program
The Community Service Program is offered to individuals as part of a restorative justice process. Boland is delighted that the CJCC has returned to the county because in this program, “it is great to work within our communities, alongside business and community members.”
To date, 718 hours of community service have been completed since May, equating to $7000 worth of labor.
Currently, the CJCC has an 80 percent success rate, with only a $130,000 annual cost to tax payers. While many of the supervisors gasped at this number during November’s meeting, Boland went on to showcase the big picture: $75,500 is covered by a grant and $54,500 is paid by tax payers.
In the grand scheme of things, if those participants were instead incarcerated annually, the cost to tax payers would be $528,000. So Boland clarifies that $56,000 annually to promote a safer county and lower recidivism rates is a significantly low cost to the dangerous alternative.
If you want to learn more or apply for one of these programs, visit https://www.co.polk.wi.us/cjcc.