The Dane County Day Report and Treatment (DART) Program is celebrating two years as a jail diversion program helping incarcerated individuals get treatment for alcohol and other drug abuse before their case goes to trial. Beginning at 12:15 p.m. on Wednesday, August 19 Court Commissioner Todd Meurer will lead the celebration, which will feature testimony from DART graduates and comments from Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk.
DART is a unique pre-trial program that works with individuals earlier in the criminal justice process than any other jurisdiction in Wisconsin. Dane was one of only a handful of Wisconsin counties to win a competitive state grant back in 2007 to launch the DART program.
“This program holds participants accountable for their crimes while giving them an opportunity to address serious drug problems,” said Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk. “DART is beneficial for its participants while strengthening the safety of our communities.”
Court Commissioner Todd Meurer plays a central role in the success of the DART program, regularly reviewing the cases of participants in his courtroom to monitor their legal status and progress in treatment.
“Sometimes people have to reach the bottom before they can climb back up,” Meurer said. “Offering treatment to people shortly after their arrest is the opportunity many need to turn their lives around. I’m grateful we can offer that in Dane County.”
DART has seen 32 people successfully graduate since the program began in 2007, most having graduated after being in the program for 60 days or more. DART clients are assessed by certified alcohol and drug abuse counselors then, if eligible, participate in either outpatient or residential treatment and other services designed to help them address their alcohol and drug abuse and the lifestyle that supports it.
Most clients who are admitted to DART have been dependent on opiates, such as heroin or prescription pain medications.
“DART has made a positive impact in the lives of the program’s graduates.” Meurer said. “I’ve seen people who are no strangers to the criminal justice system and who have significant drug problems begin to turn things around for the better because of the quick actions of DART.”
DART is funded by a Treatment Alternatives and Diversion (TAD) grant offered through the State of Wisconsin’s Office of Justice Assistance. The TAD grant program was renewed as part of the biennial budget passed by the Legislature and signed by Governor Jim Doyle last month.