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January 16, 2013 10:00 PM

Rural Sheriff Eyes New Plan For Punishing Crime

As the state looks at different ways to punish non-violent criminals, a rural sheriff is hoping to see results.

If an opportunity comes to effectively fight crime in Walworth County while seeing fewer people go to prison, Sheriff Duane Mohr will take it.

"If one gets sentenced to prison, we've got $200 to $250 expense of getting them there and man hours involved," Mohr said.

That cost doesn’t consider housing prisoners in the penitentiary.

The idea of allowing non-violent offenders to serve punishments and correct behavior locally is one Mohr is interested in, if it works. And he's thinking it might.

The county has seen great results with the 24/7 Sobriety Program which keeps offenders out of jail if they pass regular tests proving they're clean from drugs and alcohol.

"Domestic violence slowed down, 4 a.m. to 6 a.m. calls at the police department slowed down once they were on the 24/7," Mohr said.

Mohr contacted the state as soon as he heard about that program, asking to bring it to Walworth County. As for this new program, he's looking forward to the possibility of giving it a shot.

"Be glad to work with the state and local people, make it work out," Mohr said.

With potential jail time hanging over their heads if they don't comply, Mohr says many participants of the 24/7 program are staying sober. Still, some violate the rules and spend time in jail.

Mohr doesn't see these alternatives benefiting people who refuse to change. Overall, he could see it help many others.

Walworth County is looking at a potential jail expansion in the future. Mohr says current talks are driven in part by the possibility of housing more inmates locally if state policies change.

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