Wisconsin drug offenders given a second chance at life

Eligible drug offenders in Wisconsin have the option of enrolling in the state’s drug treatment court program rather than serving their time in prison.

Drug addiction affects the lives of many Wisconsin residents and Americans nation-wide. According to the Mayo Clinic, drug addiction can change a person's life. Not only does an addiction cause mental and physical health problems, but it results in strained relationships, employment difficulties and even legal issues. Since drug dependence is a complex disease that is diagnosed by health care professionals, many people believe that those arrested on drug charges should be given access to drug treatment programs. Wisconsin's Drug Treatment Court programs offer help to certain convicted drug offenders.

What is drug court?

Rather than be incarcerated in the prison system, eligible drug offenders have the option of enrolling in a strict drug treatment program. Participants are carefully monitored by an interdisciplinary team, composed of judges, lawyers, counselors, probation officers and law enforcement, while attending intense drug and alcohol counseling courses.

The National Association of Drug Court Professionals states that participants of the drug program are provided with the treatment they need to remain clean and sober. In addition, they are given frequent drug and alcohol tests to monitor their sobriety during the program. Participants are required to appear in court regularly, allowing the judge to monitor their progress in the program. As a way to enhance their employability once they graduate from the drug court program, participants are enrolled in education and job training courses.

Eligibility requirements

Not all drug offenders are eligible for enrollment in the drug court program. Milwaukee's Drug Court Program has the capacity to treat 60 offenders at any given time. In order to be accepted into the program, offenders must be:

  • A non-violent offender.
  • At least 18 years old.
  • A repeat misdemeanor offender or have a felony charge.
  • A resident of Milwaukee County.
  • An addict as indicated by the Addiction Severity Index test. This assessment measures the severity of a person's drug dependency.

Sex offenders, or those charged with crimes involving weapons will not be considered for the program.

Goals of the drug court program

According to the Milwaukee County Drug Treatment Court Policy and Procedure Manual, the program hopes to reduce the drug offender recidivism rate, improve public safety and provide offenders with a community-based alternative to prison incarceration. Participants can successfully graduate from the program once they have been enrolled for at least one year. Officials will also consider each participant's family situation, housing, employment, support system and progress in the drug treatment program when deciding whether they are ready to graduate.

Contact an attorney

People who have been charged and convicted of a drug crime may be eligible for enrollment in Milwaukee's Drug Court Program, avoid incarceration and have a second chance at life. A criminal defense attorney may be extremely helpful in explaining your options to you and representing your case in a court of law.

Keywords: drug, treatment, prison, sentence