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As I See It

Treatment and diversion programs a good investment

Scott Robert Shaw

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Wisconsin spends a lot of money on criminal justice measures. So its important taxpayers get their money’s worth. Since 2005, Wisconsin has made investments in alternatives to just sending people to prison. The Treatment Alternatives and Diversion Program has shown success in saving taxpayer dollars and helping reduce recidivism. During a stop in La Crosse last week, Governor Tony Evers proposed spending more on this program, and expanding it throughout the state. La Crosse County has been a leader in this effort, operating separate courts such as the Veterans Court, OWI Court and Mental Health Court. These courts have worked with those likely to benefit more from treatment than prison. But many Wisconsin counties don’t have these courts and increasing our investment would allow them to do so. There are specific benchmarks lawbreakers must meet to graduate from the court systems. Of course, not everyone who enrolls in these courts ends up on the straight and narrow. But they have a better track record than prisons. And they are a good investment for taxpayers. Evers says for every dollar spent on treatment and diversion programs the Wisconsin criminal justice system saves $4.17. That saves money and increases chances those who run afoul of the law can again contribute to society.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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