Wisconsin’s jail alternatives that help drug offenders

You need treatment, not incarceration. The jails and prisons already are full. And with the COVID-19 pandemic upon us, you really hope to avoid going to such facilities because the virus potentially spreads like wildfire in them.

You want a second chance. Maybe even a third, fourth or one more last chance. This is it. You are willing to enter rehabilitation. Good. Admitting you have a drug problem is a significant step. Now, you want to overcome it. But, to accomplish your goal, you need to partner with prosecutors and judges willing to forge a path that represents an alternative to incarceration.

Diversionary programs offer hope

Wisconsin is one of many states that offer alternatives to incarceration for criminal offenders, including those arrested and convicted on drug-related charges. Known as Treatment Alternatives and Diversion (TAD) programs, they can allow offenders to avoid prison or jail. Through such programs, judges and district attorneys have the leeway to provide drug offenders with the chance to enroll in substance abuse treatment and drug rehabilitation programs.

The offender has an opportunity to avoid incarceration, but, remember, this is voluntary. The decision, ultimately, is up to the offender whether to pursue a potentially optimistic path or go to jail where nearly any opportunity evaporates.

Not only do these programs prove potentially advantageous to offenders, but to the states as well. By keeping non-violent drug offenders out of jail, states benefit in ways that include saving bed space in jails and prisons as well as taxpayer dollars. In addition, with addiction treatment, the patient may avoid future criminal behavior.

Achieving success is not easy, though. Ask any person addicted to substances such as methamphetamine, opioids, heroin, cocaine and alcohol. However, as long as the person proves that he or she abstain from such substances, they may graduate from a TAD program.

Some programs in the state

Here is a look at some of the diversionary programs offered within certain Wisconsin counties:

  • Dane County: Officials focus on a pre-trial early assessment in order to divert low- to moderate-risk alcohol and other drug abuse offenders into treatment. The plan is for treatment to begin soon after an initial court appearance.
  • Milwaukee County: Its program concentrates on offenders with combined substance abuse and mental health issues. In successfully graduating from the program, offenders have the charges dismissed or reduced.
  • Rock County: In dealing with people charged with drug crimes, the courts collaborate with local programs that deal with treatment, education and employment.
  • Washington County: This county program focuses on second- and third-time offenders of drunk driving as well as people who are on probation or parole.

Agreeing to participate in a diversionary program may look good in the eyes of judges and prosecutors. However, that is not the main reason you took this route. You want to avoid jail and improve your life situation. You are on your way.