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State now handling drug-related offenses differently

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) — $2 million has been budgeted for a program to treat those who commit drug-related offenses. Now, a couple of Wisconsin’s elected officials are looking for the best ways to use that money.

“For years, you know, we’ve, for drug offenses, we’ve been locking people up,” said State Rep. John Nygren of Marinette.

Nygren says this has not produced intended results.

“Over the last three to four years, we’ve put about 80 people in state prison. And according to parole and probation in our area to date, the recidivism rate of people who come home after being incarcerated is a hundred percent,” said Nygren.

So Nygren explains, alternatives are being examined as he seeks viable uses for the $2 million the state budget has allocated for its Treatment, Alternatives and Diversion Grant program.

“What we’re looking for is more opportunities to find successful programs that we can duplicate ¬†statewide and get similar success rates that can help us break that cycle of addiction,” said Nygren.

On Friday, November 22nd, Nygran and State Sen. Alberta Darling may have found one at Wauwatosa’s Vel Phillips Juvenile Justice Facility.

Milwuakee County Children’s Court Judge Mary Triggiano is leading a team, including case managers, addiction specialists and others through the Friday family drug treatment court meeting. Here, they assess the progress of parents who’ve committed drug offenses, but have been given the opportunity to avoid having restrictions placed on their parental rights by participating in treatment and diversionary programs.

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