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Specialized courts for OWI and vets get support from La Crosse judges



For many people in La Crosse County who get arrested and taken to court, some specialized courts are available to help them avoid jail time, and rehabilitate themselves.

The OWI, drug, and veterans courts in the county have been operating for several years.

Judge Elliott Levine tells the county board judiciary committee that very few people who go through the OWI court program get arrested again for drunk driving later.

“We probably have less than, in the last two years, 10 people that have come back into the court,” said Levine, “because we don’t exclude them simply because they get another OWI. In fact, what it tends to tell you is that they’re higher risk.”

The county’s OWI court is nearly 20 years old. Levine says 80 people have graduated from that court just in the past three years.

Newly-seated Judge Mark Huesmann is supervising veterans’ court, which gives help to vets who end up in the justice system, and are dealing with substance abuse and mental health issues.

“We can get these veterans the services and treatment that they need,” said Huesmann. “We can steer them to the VA, or other things in the community that can help them, especially with drugs and alcohol and mental health issues.”

Huesmann says La Crosse County has one of only 16 special courts for veterans around Wisconsin.

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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