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Costs Of Vilas County Restorative Justice Explained

Vilas Co.

Restorative justice programs were explained to the Vilas County Finance committee recently suggesting preventing juveniles from being placed in detention facilities saves tax dollars while at the same time allowing kids to obtain assistance for their issues and to understand the impact of their actions on victims. The Finance committee had questioned the 2020 budget for restorative justice, cutting $16,000, and asked for more information on the program that started under former Vilas County Judge James Mohr.

Executive Director of Northwoods Restorative Justice, Cookie Lough,  explained the program and impacts to the committee. “Restorative justice is an alternative that offers victims a voice in how to right a wrong and is based on cooperation, communication, and collaboration,” Lough said. “It offers victims an opportunity to meet face-to-face with the offender in a safe setting to come to an agreement on how to right a wrong, fix a mistake, and repair a relationship.”

Lough said of the 44 cases she has been involved with, only two have repeated offending, adding “victims and offenders settle out of court and this is being smart on crime, not tough on crime.”

Cost to stay at Lincoln Hills-Copper Lake in Lincoln County is $532/day with a minimum nine months stay and Marathon County Juvenile Shelter is $150/day with two or three days common but could last two to three weeks. State prison costs $32,000 a year, county jail $18,000 a year and a group home $2,000.

These could be county costs and supervisor Marv Anderson, who is on the Restorative Justice board, felt “cost avoidance is the answer.” Since most offenders are juveniles, parental consent is required to meet and discuss services. Most referrals come from social services, the Judge, or and district attorney's office.

At one time Oneida County was part of the program.

Director Lough agreed to provide quarterly reports for the committee and to search for outside contributions.

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