by Senator Howard Marklein
November 22, 2019
Help Instead of Prosecute
The Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) recently awarded grants for Treatment and Diversion (TAD) programs in Lafayette County and Monroe County from funds that the legislature included in our state budget last spring to continue to fight addiction and further the Heroin, Opioid Prevention and Education (HOPE) agenda we have been working on for several years.
The legislature’s recent budget provided an additional $2 million for TAD programs. As a member of the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee (JFC) I was proud to increase this funding to $14.4 million over the 2019-21 biennium because I believe in the effectiveness and approach of these programs. TAD programs offer alternatives to prosecution and incarceration for certain offenses. They do not reduce the penalties, but they give offenders a chance to change their lives for the better.
For example, a Drug Court offers a chance to avoid incarceration and a conviction record by attending weekly court appearances, treatment sessions and maintaining sobriety. These programs have had tremendous impacts throughout the state, but especially in rural communities.
We have a great opportunity in our small, rural communities to connect one-on-one with our neighbors who need help and support. TAD programs give people a second chance by focusing on personal connections, targeted resources and support to help them overcome negative influences and issues. These programs have proven to be an effective alternative to simply locking someone away for punishment. The personal, solution-based approaches of TAD programs give people tools to live differently and seek alternatives to the negative influences that led them down negative paths.
The long-term benefits and breadth of impacts are extremely positive. Individuals who work through TAD programs have a much lower tendency to reoffend. Their families, friends and, especially their children, benefit as well. Changing the trajectory of one life has serious ripple effects, especially in our small, close-knit communities.
In the most recent round of grant awards, Lafayette County was awarded $118,000 to create an Operating While Impaired (OWI) court. Monroe County was awarded $57,000 to hire a Mental Health provider for the county’s drug court program as well as their TAD-funded OWI treatment court program. The additional funding and resources for Lafayette and Monroe counties will further expand the impact of specialized counseling and treatment for our citizens. More of our neighbors will receive the help and support they need to improve their choices and remain contributing members of our communities.
During the state budget process, the JFC was deeply committed to expanding the legislature’s efforts to support TAD programs. The HOPE Agenda has made huge strides since we started in 2013. I am proud of all of our work. From TAD programming to drug disposal to the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program (PDMP), we are attacking addiction and related problems from a lot of angles. I appreciate the leadership in all of the counties of the 17th Senate District who share this mission.
For more information and to connect with me, visit my website http://legis.wisconsin.gov/senate/17/marklein and subscribe to my weekly E-Update by sending an email to Sen.Marklein@legis.wisconsin.gov. Do not hesitate to call 800-978-8008 if you have input, ideas or need assistance with any state-related matters.
Marklein represents the 17th Senate District, which includes all or parts Grant, Green, Iowa, Juneau, Lafayette, Monroe, Richland, Sauk and Vernon counties. Marklein serves on the legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee and is Chair of the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Revenue & Financial Institutions.