Moose Lake Star Gazette - Serving Carlton and Pine Counties Since 1895

By Traci LeBrun
Moose Lake Star-Gazette 

Pine County probation update

 


The Pine County probation caseload is trending upward, said Pine County Probation Director Terry Fawcett as he presented the county’s 2018 comprehensive probation plan at the June 5 regular county board meeting. He highlighted the caseloads, out-of-home placement budget, current trends, and some probation projects.

From 2010 to 2015, new offenders entering probation stayed relatively stable with 385 in 2010 and 395 in 2015. In 2016, the number jumped significantly to 481, and in 2017, there were 512 new offenders. Since 1985, the biggest spike occurred in 2006 with 852 new offenders. The majority of those placed on probation are from misdemeanor charges. Juvenile offenders on probation have increased by 43 percent from a year ago, added Fawcett, increasing from 49 to 70.

Fawcett said the types of cases in probation are changing. At the top of the list of offenders are repeat driving while intoxicated (DWI) cases and drug offenses. However, DWI cases have decreased from 453 in 2011, to 257 in 2017. But drug cases have increased from 131 in 2011, to 225 in 2017. Burglary, theft and assault cases are up by about 60 percent. Sex offenses have remained about the same since 2011.

“Budget busters”

Out-of-home placements costs continue to be a budget problem for both Probation and Health and Human Services (HHS), said Fawcett. Health and Human Services had a budget of $406,000 for probation cases but went over budget by $118,214 with a total of $524,214 spent in 2017. Fawcett noted in his report to the board that HHS and Probation out-of-home placement costs went from $1.4 million in 2016 to $2.2 million in 2017.

In 2017, there were 10 juvenile “budget busters” costing HHS the majority of their out-of-home placement costs, said Fawcett. Those offenders included juveniles who commit heinous crimes, sexual offenders requiring sex offender treatment, juveniles with serious mental health issues, and chronic serious juvenile offenders. The “budget busters” totaled $402,000 of the $524,214 spent.

The departments are looking at ways to save money, and juvenile monitoring was an alternative used to keep some juveniles in the home, saving the county $203,000.

“Hopefully, in 2019, our goal is to only place dangerous and sexually dangerous kids,” said Fawcett. In comparison to other counties, Fawcett said Pine County is doing better than others and comparable to Carlton County with placements. “Things work here because we have a group of professionals here for the right reasons and check the egos at the door. We have so many of the right people including commissioners in support of what we do and are willing to roll up their sleeves. We have to develop an alternative though. We think we have to send them out of home because we don’t have other options, but that makes it worse for the kids in the long run.”

C-5 Restorative Justice

program

The C5 (community, collaboration, culture, change and choices) program has a 97 percent success rate for completion, says Fawcett, with a 100 percent success rate in recidivism of those who have completed the program. This program, started in 2016, brings victims of crimes, youth offenders and community members together to repair harm caused by crime. The program’s strategy includes conferencing to allow victims, offenders and community members to come together, after preparation, for safe dialogue, uses panel consensus for appropriate consequences for youth’s illegal behavior, and allows victims to have a voice. The program consists predominantly of males.

ISP program

The Repeat DWI Intensive Supervision Program (ISP), according to Fawcett, has an 89 percent success rate. He said the program, implemented in 1999, increases accountability by closely monitoring participants’ activities, provides a structured program, imposes sanctions when participants violate program conditions rather than returning them to court, addresses chemical dependency needs, and helps reduce jail sentences when in the program. There are 32 clients in the program, as of 2017, and since 2001, the ISP program has saved the county approximately $678,722.00 in jail costs and has generated over $84,000 in correctional fees.

Cultural alliance with Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe

“The community coach (Lawrence Staples) continues to do wonders in this community,” said Fawcett. In January, a cultural community coach was hired to address truancy and out-of-home placements within the Native American population in the county. The position is jointly funded and supervised by the Mille Lac Band of Ojibwe and Pine County Probation. “It’s an uphill battle for many of these kids.”

 

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