DARLINGTON – Lafayette County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution to support Lafayette County’s participation in the Green County Drug Court expansion on June 25 but not without some discussion about drugs in the county.
A motion was made by Jack Wiegel to approve the motion with Kriss Marion seconding. Chairman Jack Sauer asked if there was any comment about the resolution before he made a comment himself.
Sauer asked, “With the push by some people to legalize drugs in Lafayette County why do we have the need for this?”
At the previous Lafayette County Law Enforcement Committee meeting on May 21, a resolution was discussed regarding the “Opposition to the Legalization of Marijuana in the State of Wisconsin”. A heated discussion came from that meeting where Sauer was in favor of the resolution and a member of the community was against. His statement at the County Board meeting referred to that interaction.
Lafayette County Judge Duane Jorgenson explained the primary goal for drug court is the address the high risk and high need offenders who are committing drug offenses or property crimes and are “on their last leg before they go to prison.”
“Primarily it would not be looking at users of marijuana. In Lafayette County, methamphetamines and harder drugs present really significant and difficult addiction issues,” Jorgenson stated.
Sauer retorted, “Don’t most people that get on harder drugs start with the lighter ones to start with?”
Jorgenson stated there was someone with that issue that was in his court that very day.
Court Services director Kris Fleming stated that drug court is not a way to get out of jail.
“You have to work really hard. The programming includes alcohol and drug counseling, participants have to find jobs and pay for part of it, they have to participate in things in the community such as AA meetings or volunteering. They are drug tested 2-3 times a week. It is not an easy thing. It takes one year to 1.5 years for someone to finish and not everyone finishes. Anyone who does is someone that is not using drugs in our county or committing crimes. We want to get them out and be productive members of society,” Fleming explained.
Supervisor Scott Pedley asked if it is their intention to have a drug court established in Lafayette County.
Fleming, Jorgenson and District Attorney Jenna Gill answered with a resounding ‘yes’.
“That is what we would like to do,” Gill said. “That is why we have started a CJCC (Criminal Justice Coordinating Council).”
Before the drug court resolution, the county approved a resolution establishing a Lafayette County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council to enhance public safety in Lafayette County through community collaboration by ensuring offender accountability, providing effective rehabilitation programs and supporting the rights and needs of victims.
Gill added that the county did apply for grant money for the drug court program but because there is only so much money available and there were other counties that were in much greater need, Lafayette County did not receive the funds. They hope that when more money becomes available, they will be able to apply for those funds and not only establish a drug court but an OWI court as well.
“We recognized in Lafayette County that we have alcohol and drug problems that both needs to be addressed,’ Gill said.
“Since I have taken the bench, we have seen a steady increase in criminal activity. A large measure is related to drug activity in our county. Not just drug offenses but property crimes that go with it. In Lafayette County that problem can be associated with methamphetamine,” Jorgenson said.
Fleming stated that there are several children that are in their care because of their parents drug use.
“It costs us money. It is a ripple effect down to the children. If we can get our folks to stop using, that will ripple down to their children.
Pedley then called for the question and the motion passed unanimously.
The Lafayette County Board of Supervisors also approved:
- an ordinance regarding operating an ATV/UTV/OHM without insurance.
- resolution authorizing non-lapsing funds for the 2018 year end
- transferring deficit/surplus account balances for 2018 year end
- transferring funds of $17,607 to Lafayette Manor for 2018 year end
- transferring funds of $126,754 to Lafayette County Human Services for 2018 year end