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Drug court as an alternative for Milwaukee defendants

Some drug defendants qualify for court-sponsored programs that can help them get treatment for substance abuse and avoid incarceration. Local and state governments reap benefits with less crowded jails and fewer repeat offenders. Study results published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in 2013 showed a recidivism rate decline of up to 26 percent among drug court participants over 10 years.

The Wisconsin programs include more than random drug testing and substance abuse treatment. As defendants work to eliminate drug dependence, they undergo education and training to help them improve their lives. Participants learn skills that can lead to gainful employment, acquire knowledge to help deal with family relationships and develop plans to stay clean once the program ends.

Completion of a treatment program can take a year or longer. During that time, the defendant is supervised by a case manager and must report regularly to a judge. Incentives are offered when defendants meet program goals, but sanctions also are included for participants who fail to comply with the program's requirements.

Defendants accepted into the voluntary, alternative treatment programs may be charged with felony or misdemeanor drug crimes, but may not be violent offenders. Therefore, not all defendants charged with drug offenses can take advantage of the program.

Qualified defendants who enter the drug treatment program are bound by the rules set by the court. A criminal defense attorney can explain the risks involved when a defendant does not comply with program rules or complete requirements.

Noncompliance may result in jail or prison time – the very consequences defendants are trying to avoid. Successful progression through the program can end with early graduation and a positive legal outcome.

You can speak with a legal adviser about the qualifications for the Milwaukee County Drug Treatment Court program. If you're qualified, understand what you're expected to accomplish and what you can attain by following the plan.

Source: Milwaukee County County Drug Treatment Court Planning Team, "Milwaukee County Drug Treatment Court," accessed April. 23, 2015

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