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Redwood Falls Gazette - Redwood Falls - MN
  • Amber Tisue is new drug court coordinator

  • When an individual is arrested in Redwood County, the traditional option is to pay for the crime through fines, probation and jail time; the issue for some is the punitive philosophy is not really helping them address the personal issues that got them in trouble in the first place....
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  • When an individual is arrested in Redwood County, the traditional option is to pay for the crime through fines, probation and jail time. The issue for some is the punitive philosophy is not really helping them address the personal issues that got them in trouble in the first place. Those convicted of drug crimes or DWI have a much more deep-seated problem that can’t be solved by sitting in a cell. They need help, because they have an addiction problem. A couple of years ago, the fifth district of the Minnesota Judicial Branch began a program in southwest Minnesota known as the drug court. The Southwest Community Drug Court, which includes Lincoln, Lyon and Redwood counties, was established with the idea to help those with addiction to get to the heart of their personal issues. To help the program succeed, coordinators were hired to help build the program and ensure it was heading in the right direction. Starting this past December a new coordinator has come on board with the program. Her name is Amber Tisue, and she brings a lot of passion to the program.
    Tisue, a 2002 graduate of RVHS, earned her degree from SMSU in 2006 and began working as a probation officer in Crow Wing County. A couple of years into her role there, she was approached about getting involved in the development of a DWI court, so Tisue helped build that program from the ground up. She served as the program’s coordinator in addition to her role as a probation officer, adding that was great experience and really helped prepare her for the subsequent roles she would fill, as well as her current position. “That was a great job,” said Tisue, who said when it was time to start having a family the decision was made to move back closer to family. After returning to her hometown, Tisue took a job working with Project Turnabout, which had her traveling throughout southwest Minnesota. Looking for a little more consistent role that would not require being away from her family as much, Tisue then took a role in Redwood County coordinating the restorative justice program. Then the job opened up in drug court, and Tisue jumped at the chance to get involved. “Every day I wake up now and think about how much I enjoy what I am doing,” she said. “For me this is not a job. This is my passion.” As drug court coordinator, Tisue works in Redwood Falls and Marshall, but her office is located in the Redwood County courthouse. The drug court program allows adult off-enders who have been charged with a drug offense or felony DWI to get involved with the program rather than just sitting in jail. “A lot of people think this is the easier way out,” said Tisue, “but it’s not. It’s a lot of hard work and commitment.” Offenders are referred to the program, and once a week or on an every other week schedule they meet to talk about how they are doing. Those in the program must meet certain requirements placed on them by a team that includes Tisue, as well as representatives from the court system, law enforcement, the county attorney’s office, a def-ense attorney, human services, probation, Pro-ject Turnabout and the Lower Sioux community. Those requirements typically include attending meetings, submitting to random testing and getting treatment if that is necessary. Tisue said there are currently seven people in Redwood County who are in the drug court program, adding those who are accepted into the program are given a chemical dependency assessment. It is those who are deemed addicted who become part of drug court. “We are helping them with recovery,” Tisue said. “We want to provide them with the care they need and the resources to be healthy.” The mission of drug court is to create productive citizens, which means not only helping them overcome addiction but to become productive members of their community. That includes en-couraging those involved to further their education by earning a high school diploma or GED and potentially college, as well. The intent is to help them find a job and then keep it. Only those who are willing to be part of the program are accepted, said Tisue, adding not everyone is a success story. There are relapses and some who just think the program is too hard. Those people end up back in the system and serve their time in jail. That, said Tisue, is sad, because those individuals are not getting the help they need. Statistics show those people end up back in the system again. The drug court program is funded through dollars from the state, said Tisue, adding the program continues to grow statewide. “This is such a great program,” she said. “I really feel blessed to be a part of it.”
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