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Evers promotes diversion programs in La Crosse visit

Brad Williams

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Spending less money on prisons, and more on rehabilitation.  That’s one of the goals Governor Tony Evers has, in proposing a new state budget for Wisconsin. 

The governor came to La Crosse on Thursday to support more funding for TAD programs…treatment alternatives and diversion. 

Evers says the justice system is putting a strain on the state’s population.

“It has disproportionately impacted people of color, especially black and native men,” said the governor. “It has held back communities from success, whether it’s in education, workforce, healthcare, you name it.”         

During a news conference at the La Crosse County administrative center, Evers said diversion programs are a way to give offenders new opportunities, which he says is the Wisconsin way.      “It’s not just a moral issue,” says Evers. “It’s an economic issue also, reforming our justice system isn’t just the right thing to do. It’s a smart thing to do for our pocketbooks.”

La Crosse County has been operating OWI and drug courts for several years, to keep the local jail population down. 

Kim Joki is a diversion coordinator for the county, who believes the alternative programs help people “self-correct” their behavior.

“We’re there to help guide them through the process, which increases their odds of successfully completing the program,” said Joki. “We also help determine how we can best serve an individual so that they do not reoffend in the future.”

Joki and Evers were joined by area legislators Jill Billings and Brad Pfaff in supporting increased funding for diversion programs.

A native of Prairie du Chien, Brad graduated from UW - La Crosse and has worked in radio news for more than 30 years, mostly in the La Crosse area. He regularly covers local courts and city and county government. Brad produces the features "Yesterday in La Crosse" and "What's Buried on Brad's Desk." He also writes the website "Triviazoids," which finds odd connections between events that happen on a certain date, and he writes and performs with the local comedy group Heart of La Crosse. Brad been featured on several national TV programs because of his memory skills.

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