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Eagle River
The Northwoods
St. Germain
Photo by WJFW Newswatch 12

Vilas County Jail continues successful drug rehabilitation programs

Story By Morgan Johnson
Local News Published 09/23/2021 4:23PM, Last Updated 09/23/2021 5:33PM
Eagle River - Bill Weiss started at the Vilas County Jail as a corrections officer. He now serves as the jail administrator. One thing has remained the same throughout his 23-year career, and that's that many of the inmates struggle with the same thing.

"I would say that 90 percent of the inmates that come into the Vilas County Jail come in because they're under the influence of drugs and alcohol and that contributes to the crime that they did," said Weiss.

That's why Weiss helped to create a recovery program that he says has been very successful.

Weiss heard a presentation about the program and it made sense to bring it to Vilas County because of the amount of drugs and alcohol in the area. In 2018 he started the program with the help of state grants.

"It's been the same people that come in and out of the door and I come to know those people by first name, and I wanted to do something to help those people," said Weiss.

Under the Readiness for Recovery Program, eight individual programs provide inmates with specific help.

Jay Wentworth facilitates the Circle of Change recovery program at the jail. He says inmates have to make the decision to change in order to be successful.

"They come out of this program with a ray of hope simply because they decided to learn a little bit more on how to change [their lives]," said Wentworth.

There can be up to 22 inmates in the jail's recovery program. Weiss says hearing about the inmates' success stories is what makes this program so essential.

"One of the biggest rewards is when people come back to the jail and they say, 'Look at me. I want to meet with you," said Weiss. "'I've been sober for six months, I've been sober for a year, 18 months,' and that really keeps everybody going and motivated."

Weiss knows he'd rather see the inmates out in the community than in jail, and providing those inmates with a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program will help him achieve that goal. So as jail administrator, he's not just looking over the inmates, he's looking out for them.
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