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Commissioners ponder changes to Porter County Antabuse system

Updated: November 23, 2013 11:52PM



VALPARAISO — The Porter County Board of Commissioners took the first step this week to change how the county’s Antabuse program is administered, a move that would switch oversight of the program from the county’s judges to the health department.

The program offers an alternative to jail for alcohol offenders before and after trial, said David Hollenbeck, attorney for the county’s health department. Antabuse causes physical discomfort when someone consumes alcohol.

The county’s judges and the probation department have led the program, while the health department has given the Antabuse, but Hollenbeck said there’s been an impediment under state statute to continuing of that arrangement.

Under the changes discussed by commissioners on Tuesday, the health department will have oversight of the program, though assignment to the program will still be through the courts and the probation department.

Antabuse is offered to program participants at the health department offices in Valparaiso and Portage three days a week, early in the morning or at night. Additional security is in place at both locations for the program.

If a participant is in violation of the program, Hollenbeck said, that’s reported to probation and relayed to the courts for action.

Participants — Hollenbeck said there are about 80 people in the program right now — will pay their $120 monthly fee to the health department, instead of to the probation department.

“It’s more convenient because they’re coming to health department anyway. They don’t have to go to probation (to pay the fee),” Hollenbeck said at Tuesday’s commissioners meeting.

Commissioners will give a second reading to the changes at their Dec. 3 meeting; the changes must be in place by Dec. 31.

In other business, Commission President John Evans, R-North, announced that county employees will have 14 paid holidays off in the coming year, including a day off for the May primary and one for the November general election.



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