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Executive Falk announces jail proposal

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Topf Wells, 266-9069

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 10/2/2001

Issued By: County Executive
View only releases from County Executive
Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk today recommended $1 million in funding to plan facilities and programs for inmates with alcohol and drug problems.

"Making jail inmates deal with their drug and alcohol abuse is the right thing to do for three reasons. It protects the public. It turns lives around. And, it saves taxes," said Falk.

Falk said: "Too many people in our jail are there because they abuse alcohol or other drugs. Too many are released without having changed that destructive behavior. Too many then commit crimes such as drunk driving or stealing, which endanger lives and threaten public safety. My proposal will fund the planning of the facilities and programs needed for these inmates to have the treatment and accountability to turn their lives around. The results should be that much fewer of these inmates will commit new crimes. That will be a real improvement in public safety."

While most areas of crime have gone down, the number of persons arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or controlled substances with 2,949 such arrests in 2000. Of those, 2117 arrests were for a repeat drunk driving offense. Since 1998, there has been a 67% increase in referrals of these repeat drunk drivers to the District Attorney. Data from Dane County suggests that 30% of all jail inmates have some drug or alcohol related offense.

Falk developed the proposal as part of the 2002 budget she presented to the County Board on Monday, October 1st. She continued: "These plans will be for a combination of facilities and programs to add up to 300 beds to our overcrowded jail system. Other communities have used this approach as a cost-effective way to reduce recidivism, and help prevent overcrowding in the future."

Falk called for the initial planning to be complete by July 1st of next year. Approximately $250,000 will be used for the initial research with about $750,000 reserved for the specific design of the facilities and programs.

Falk concluded: "Serious studies are showing that facilities which require inmates to deal with their alcohol and drug abuse with careful treatment and follow-through reduce the number of people who re-offend. We should take similar steps in Dane County. We will save the inmates who are wasting much of their lives in ways that are dangerous and expensive to us. We will also better protect the rest of us who might otherwise suffer from these people who drive drunk, steal to support an addiction, or lose self-control when high or intoxicated."
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