County Executive Announces First in Wisconsin Effort to Reduce Domestic Violence, Repeat Drunk Driving Offenses
September 26, 2013
Casey Slaughter Becker, County Executive's Office (608) 267-8823, or cell (608) 843-8858
Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced today that his 2014 county budget will include a first-in-Wisconsin pilot program that will provide intensive, daily alcohol testing for those with alcohol related offenses – including drunk driving or domestic violence – in an effort to reduce repeat offenses.
“Drunk driving and domestic violence offenses take an incredible toll on victims, their families, and our communities,” said Parisi. “This first-in-Wisconsin effort will make offenders more accountable and has been shown to reduce repeat DUI arrests – saving taxpayer dollars, and lives.”
Under the County Executive’s “Accountability 24-7,” offenders sentenced to the program would be required to appear twice a day at a designated time for a mandatory Breathalyzer test.
Failure of a Breathalyzer test will result in transportation to the Dane County jail and an appearance before a judge. The pilot program will be able to test up to 100 individuals twice daily in its first year.
A Rand Corporation study in the American Journal of Public Health reported impressive results of the 24/7 program’s effectiveness in South Dakota. Researchers documented a 12% reduction in repeat DUI arrests and a 9% reduction in domestic violence arrests at the county level following adoption of the program. The report also showed evidence of a decline in traffic crashes involving men ages 18 to 40.
The success of the program in Dane County will be assessed at year-end to evaluate potential expansion – including to additional law enforcement agencies in the county.
The County Executive’s budget includes $25,000 to operate the pilot over the course of six months, covering the cost of testing for 100 individuals. The program is projected to be nearly self-sufficient as testing will cost the offender $4 a day ($2 per test) and may be included as a condition of bail or as part of a sentence.
“The Dane County Sheriff’s Office has long been a leader in efforts to stop Domestic Violence and Drinking and Driving. This pilot program will give us the tools to hold offenders more accountable with measurable results,” said Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney. “Alcohol plays a significant role in many of our Domestic Violence cases, and we’ve all seen the stories of drivers arrested for their 6th, 7th, or 8th OWI, who continue to get behind the wheel. This is not simply a law enforcement issue, this is a community issue. As we have many times in the past, we look forward to partnering with Safe Communities to reduce the devastating effects alcohol abuse can have on our neighbors and our families.”
The Safe Communities Coalition will coordinate implementation of the program and work with additional partners early next year. Safe Communities has successfully launched a number of community-focused initiatives to address challenges throughout the area, including the coordination of the joint City of Madison-Dane County effort to slow the rise of opiates overdoses.
“Safe Communities’ partners are grateful for County Executive Parisi’s leadership to make launch of this program possible, particularly given its proven effectiveness in communities around the nation,” said Cheryl Wittke, Director of Safe Communities. “Abuse of alcohol is an underlying factor in so many injury-related deaths, from traffic crashes to domestic violence and suicide. Through Accountability 24-7, and thanks to criminal justice system, law enforcement and treatment partners who will implement this pilot, we have a potentially powerful tool to reduce these senseless deaths and injuries.”
The County Executive will introduce his budget to the Dane County Board on October 1st.
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