NEW ULM - Brown County commissioners learned Tuesday that in 2012, probation dealt with all-time high of 968 adult offenders and 189 DWI offenders, the highest number in 10 years.
Brown County Probation Director Les Schultz said his 2012 statistics review showed a dramatic increase in 14- and 15-year-old offenders, many more furnishing alcohol to minors charges. Out-of-home placement costs of $406,814 more than doubled the 2011 figure of $179,258.
"There are lots of kids with mental health issues which create some big bills," Schultz said. "When a kid commits multiple criminal sex acts or has homicidal or suicidal issues, courts order placements that can cost $275 a day."
Commissioner Andy Lochner said he was "amazed" that there were 968 Brown County adult offenders on probation in 2012, according to the report.
In addition, there were 106 juvenile offenders and 71 in Teen Court or other diversion programs for a total of 1,145 people, (approximately 4 percent of the 2010 county population) on probation.
Schultz said 22 county juveniles were charged with criminal sexual conduct last year, compared to two in 2011. County probation statistics have been kept since 1994.
Several commissioners voiced interest in participating on a committee with law enforcement, probation staff and district court judges to study how to reduce probation costs but keep effective programs.
The report on Project Nighthawk showed that just 10 offenders were found in non-compliance in 2012, compared to 60 in 2005. The program partners law enforcement and probation officers to target high-risk clients on active probation by knocking on doors, holding them accountable for violations and praising the behavior of non-violators.
"We've got some of our most veteran officers working on this. It's going well," Schultz said.
In another part of the probation report, it showed 76 Community Work Service (CWS) juvenile participants, 51 males and 25 females, picked up 426 trash bags in county parks, road ditches and other public places last year. There were 40 juveniles from New Ulm, 31 from Sleepy Eye and five from other parts of the county.
(Fritz Busch can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org).