Seal of Dane County County of Dane
County Executive's Office

Innovative Dane County Program Helps Former Alcohol Addicts “Find Their Path”

March 19, 2010
Joshua Wescott, Office of the County Executive (608) 267-8823 or cell (608) 669-5606
County Executive

Graduates of “Pathfinders” Gather for Reunion, Share Stories of Success After Alcoholism

A Dane County program that helps alcohol and drug offenders break free from their addiction is celebrating seven years of successfully rehabilitating and treating individuals. This program is called Pathfinders and was created by County Executive Kathleen Falk in 2003 to improve public safety, reduce recidivism in and out of the county jail, save tax dollars, and turn lives around.

Since its beginning, 156 people have successfully graduated from the Pathfinders program and many of them have turned their lives around and now have jobs, stable housing, and obtained educational degrees.  A recent one-year review of Pathfinders graduates found over 70% had not re-offended. 

“Pathfinders combines intensive treatment and continuous monitoring to help people put their lives back on track,” County Executive Kathleen Falk said.  “Instead of just locking alcohol offenders up and having them do their time only to have them back in jail a few months, weeks, or even days later for drinking too much alcohol again, Pathfinders treats the problem.”

Falk noted that on any given day, over half the sentenced inmates housed in the Dane County jail are there for driving drunk.  That doesn’t include individuals doing time for a crime committed while they were intoxicated (battery or burglary for example). 

“County taxpayers spend over $60-million each year to run a jail in which over half the sentenced inmates are behind bars for drinking too much,” Falk said.  “Pathfinders is a smarter, better way to keep our communities safe.”

Falk noted that every person kept from re-offending and going back to jail saves county taxpayers $29,200 per person, per year.  The 156 graduates have saved taxpayers over $1.5 million in saved jail beds. 

The County Executive and County Board budget around $200,000 a year for Pathfinders.  The program is contracted to Hope Haven-Rebos United which is run by Catholic Charities. 

Back to Press Releases