Lawmakers announce expansion of drug treatment program

Local News

Attorney General Josh Kaul announced the expansion of a treatment program for non-violent offenders on Tuesday.

Kaul made the announcement at a stop at HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire.

Wisconsin lawmakers say the growing drug epidemic has a direct impact on crime in the state.

“The substance abuse disorders that we’re facing plus the mental health is something we can’t arrest ourselves out of. Law Enforcement can’t keep arresting people,” said Assembly District 68 and former Altoona Police Chief Rep. Jesse James.

The Treatment alternative and Diversion program or TAD aims to bring solutions by allowing local jurisdictions the option to give non-violent offenders a chance to enter diversion or treatment court instead of jail time.

“It’s a win, win. We’re making safer communities, we’re getting fairer outcomes and we’re saving the state money,” said Kaul.

In addition to ongoing annual funding, $2 million from the current state budget will go towards TAD expansion.

“It’s going to support some existing programs and it’s also going to help support a relatively, newly established program run by the Ho-Chunk Nation,” said Kaul.

Kaul said addressing drug addiction in Wisconsin has been a bipartisan effort.

“Often people who are struggling with substance use disorder are facing other challenges including mental health issues,” said Kaul.

State Sen. Jeff Smith says TAD has worked really well in Eau Claire County.

“We need all of the resources we can to combat the addiction,” said Smith.

The expansion will also include transportation funding for some counties to help those in the diversion program get to appointments.

TAD programs are already being funded in three tribes and 53 counties across the state including the Chippewa Valley.

Chippewa, Dunn, La Crosse and other surrounding counties have diversion programs. Eau Claire County has Adult Drug Court, Family Dependency Treatment Court, Veterans Treatment Court, and Mental Health Court.

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