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Lac du Flambeau tribe and Vilas County open joint drug court

­­­­­­­­­LAC DU FLAMBEAU, Wis. (WXPR) -- A large federal grant has been given to a unique program between the Lac du Flambeau tribe and Vilas county to help people with addiction problems.

The nearly $900,000 grant is through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Service's Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. In June, 2013, Vilas County Court and the Lac du Flambeau Tribal Court announced an agreement to move people with chronic addiction problems through the court with a goal to treat the addiction rather than incarceration.

Tribal Resource Development Specialist says the Zaagiibagaa Healing to Wellness Court is voluntary and describes how a person gets involved. "They start out through the Vilas County Circuit Court. Then the District Attorney's office, working with the state Public Defender's Office make recommendations on the individuals they believe would be appropriate fits. Those individuals get screened, but then what happens is those clients meet with our Wellness Court on a weekly basis."

Young says the first court appearance is in Vilas County Circuit Court, but the rest of the appearances happen in Tribal court. Young says the client meets weekly with the team supervising the person. "Judge Nielsen from Vilas County, Judge Gary Smith from the Lac du Flambeau Tribal Court, Al Moustakis, the D.A.,and then a number of Wellness Court team members made up of Lac du Flambeau community members, Wellness Court staff, treatment workers, basically it's a team that meets every week with the client to monitor progress."

The three­-year grant will be used to hire additional staff and buy needed equipment.