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Cass County Board: Drug arrests up, assault arrests down

WALKER—Cass County Probation Director Jim Schneider and Minnesota Department of Corrections District Supervisor Victor Moen presented their annual reports to the Cass County Board Tuesday.

Schneider's office oversees people on probation who are juveniles or who are adults convicted of driving while intoxicated, traffic gross misdemeanors and misdemeanor offenses.

Moen's office oversees adults who have committed felonies and non-traffic gross misdemeanors or who are on supervised released from prison (formerly called parole).

Both have been tracking recidivism, especially in the first three years after release from probation or supervised release.

Schneider reported seeing some decline in recidivism, while Moen said his clients' recidivism rate has remained flat in recent years. Cass County's recidivism rate is lower than the statewide average, Moen said.

The county's diversion program to give first-time juvenile offenders a chance to choose counseling and restitution instead of going to court has helped keep some offenders from repeating their mistakes, Schneider said. Family counseling has helped a lot, he said.

He now would like to see a mentoring program initiated to further direct youths away from committing new offenses. Another goal is to prevent youths from re-offending as adults, he said.

Schneider and Moen each received authorization in 2017 to hire an additional staff person.

Of the pretrial people Schneider's office saw, the largest number (144) were arrested for drug offenses, followed by those arrested for assaultive behavior/harassment (110). The number of drug cases was up 25 from 2016, while the number of assaultive cases was down 32 from 2016.

The number of sentenced adults on probation Schneider's office saw included 469 for driving while intoxicated and 130 for assaultive behavior/harassment in 2017, up from 431 DWI cases and 101 assaultive behavior/harassment cases in 2016.

Minor consumption topped the list of juvenile offenses with 92 in 2017, but that was down from the 130 recorded in 2016.

Schneider and Moen emphasized the success of the wellness court for repeat DWI offenders. Since 2006, 57 people have completed the 18- to 24-month intense supervision program, with only a 12 percent recidivism rate.