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JusticePoint Says Having Office at Tribal Admin Building Helps with Jail Diversion

By Joe Morey News Editor

The Criminal Justice Coordinator for Sawyer County, Becky Barry, gave a report in January and told LCO Vice Chairwoman, Lorraine Gouge, that having an office location in the LCO Tribal Administration Building has helped with enlisting tribal members into jail diversion programs.

Barry said she believes the reservation office makes it easier for Tribal Members to attend their meetings with JusticePoint, the organization that administers the jail diversion programs through the Criminal Justice Coordinating Committee (CJCC) for the county and Tribe.

“People still need to make their appointments, but we find it does help to be out there,” Barry explained. She added they are open to having meetings on Zoom as an alternative too.

Barry reported that for the month of December, there were 12 people on diversion with 4 pending and 14 having completed their diversion program. She noted 22 people were determined eligible for the program and that 3 people pending had failed on diversion.

Barry also reported there are 30 people on the waitlist, 36 pending intakes and 22 people are still in custody. There were a total of 109 people on the pre-trial status. These numbers were full Sawyer County numbers regardless of whether they were Tribal Members or not.

In November, there were 35 people on the waitlist, so it did come down to 30 in December.

“We are looking at taking people off the waitlists. We move quickly depending on how quickly we can get hold of them,” Barry stated. “Our protocol is we try to contact them. They are supposed to update with their phone and address when they are put on the bond. They don’t always do that. We move on to the next person on the list once we can’t get hold of them. We can’t continue, continue, continue if they don’t return our calls.”

Gouge said that maybe some reasons could be they are homeless, or they don’t have means to report.

Barry said some are homeless, “Or they move and don’t update the clerk of courts with their communication methods. If they list contacts or family members, we try to contact them.”

Barry noted that it has helped having the tribal office location for JusticePoint, and the numbers are coming down.

Sawyer County Judge John Yackel said the courts could always use more resources, but from the court’s position, it is frustrating setting bonds and having them not be monitored.

“But those that are under JusticePoint, it is helping,” Yackel stated.

Kathy McCoy, chair of the CJCC, said she believes the jail incarceration numbers are coming down and that’s because of jail diversion programs with JusticePoint.

One comment at the CJCC January meeting was that the jail report stated only one person is on ankle bracelet monitoring, or electronic monitoring (EM).

Sheriff Doug Mrotek told LCO News that the sheriff’s office can have as many people on EM that they want but, there are certain criteria that has to be met, one of them being Huber eligibility and that there are none that meet that criteria.

Mrotek also said it comes down to risk to the community.

“I’m not going to put someone on it who is a risk. My job is to protect citizens of our community,” Mrotek stated.


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