RACINE COUNTY — The Racine County Sheriff’s Office has announced that it will expand its day-reporting program to include third-time operating-while-intoxicated offenders.
The program, which began in early 2017, has successfully monitored more than 152 inmates within the community through alcohol and drug testing daily, according to Racine County Sheriff’s Office release.
“The Racine County Sheriff’s Office arrests more drunk drivers than any other law enforcement agency in Racine County,” said Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling. “That said, we understand that OWI, regardless of the offense number, is a very serious and dangerous public safety concern.”
Of the 152 inmates who have taken part in the program, more than 50 possess convictions related to operating while intoxicated first and second offenses. Of those 50 inmates, 49 have completed the program successfully and have not reoffended within Racine County.
To be admitted to the program, potential participants must go through a thorough interview, background check and be free of a violent criminal history. Operating-while-intoxicated offenders are not enrolled if they have caused injury or had minors in the vehicle with them during offenses.
Because of its success so far, the program will expand to include operating-while-intoxicated third offenses, although admittance will be on a case-by-case basis.
Huber privileges granted by courts can allow an inmate to leave jail for up to 12 hours a day for verified work, childcare, medical appointments, etc. Many OWI third offenses are granted Huber privileges. While an inmate is out on Huber privileges, they are only alcohol-tested upon his or her return to jail.
“Once in court, most offenders are granted Huber privileges by the judge and are out in the community with little accountability and programs to stay sober,” Schmaling said.
Day-reporting program participants are required to perform alcohol testing using the AB Kiosk system twice a day — once in the morning, once in in the evening. If a participant fails a test, they are brought back into custody as soon as possible.
The day-reporting program — which requires participants to wear a GPS device allowing staff to monitor their movements 24 hours a day, seven days a week — offers opportunities to complete more individualized alcohol and drug treatment through multiple outlets. This encourages participants to complete the program of their choice.
The program monitors a current maximum enrollment of 25 participants. This allows staff to efficiently monitor and maintain daily communication with each individual participant. With this comes a high success rate and a 1 percent recidivism rate among program completions for 2017.
The program has strict policies and procedures in place and a discipline structure that holds each participant accountable.
With the expansion of the program, the Sheriff’s Office’s goal is to more closely monitor those convicted of OWI third offenses.
At any time, staff will be able to see where the participant is. This offers an opportunity for the participant to transition back into normal day-to-day activities, stressors and possible triggers, knowing they are being monitored and are required to be tested at least twice per day. The expansion of the program brings the opportunity of reducing the amount of OWI offenses in the future.
The Racine County Sheriff’s Office states that it is committed to protecting the community while focusing on reducing the recidivism rate in OWI offenses.
“This expanded and well-thought-out program not only has proven to reduce recidivism in alcohol offenders with its programming, but holds them strictly accountable, thus providing another layer of safety for all of us,” Schmaling said.