As illegal drugs continue to harm the community, Racine County programs and alcohol and drug treatment can help curb recidivism.

That message came through in a March 6 presentation by Racine County Alternatives Program Supervisor Boyd Schwartz and Circuit Court Judge Timothy Boyle to the Government Services Committee. It was designed to help some County Board members better understand how the county is treating people with addiction and mental health issues after they have been arrested.

Anyone who “lands in jail with new charges, we are interviewing them the next morning” and giving a risk assessment to the court, Schwartz said.

Currently, the county has programs that deal with alcohol and drug abuse which require regular court visits, testing and counseling. People who are arrested are directed to different treatment programs depending on their personal situation.

The county has a veterans court for nonviolent offenders who served in the military, Schwartz said. It works closely with the Racine County District Attorney’s Office and allows offenders the opportunity to go into an 18-month program that includes weekly court appearances.

“Ultimately, it’s about sobriety and staying out of the criminal justice system,” Schwartz said.

He said there is a 30-day Racine County jail AODA (alcohol and other drug abuse) program that individuals participate in while in jail. It runs eight hours a day, five days a week, and “there’s a lot of success there.”

For the last six months, the county has been operating a “mental health diversion program” in the court system which has had mixed results, Schwartz said.

“We’ve been identifying people who land in the County Jail who have mental health issues,” he said. “People who have committed some lower-level crimes, we’ve been diverting and the DA’s office has been working with us to not charge people.”

There are more than 1,000 people currently participating in a program, Schwartz and Boyle said. Some programs see more than a 75 percent success rate in participants not being arrested again and staying out of jail.