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Portage County cutting "Volunteers in Probation" program

STEVENS POINT, WI (WTAQ) - A much-hailed program in central Wisconsin is expected to end, due to budget cuts in Portage County. 

It's called "Volunteers in Probation," and pairs mentors with low to medium-risk offenders to help those people get integrated into their communities after they leave prison. 

The idea is to keep those offenders from committing new crimes and going back to jail. 

Portage County is spending $50,000 on the effort this year -- but it's expected to be a casualty of a county budget cutting wave that aims to slash a million dollars next year. 

Portage County Executive Patty Dreier says there's a new state corrections' program which essentially does the same thing -- but it involves higher-risk offenders. 

Dreier says a shortfall in the county budget does not leave much room for programs that are not absolutely mandatory.  

Advocates say the program has helped reduce the rates of people who reoffend from 40 percent, the state average, to a little less than 8 percent.