According to State Senator Andre Jacque, getting the help you need to improve your life through a treatment court is a better alternative than staying locked up. Last week, Jacque’s Senate Bill 275, which establishes specialized “problem-solving courts” into state law, was passed by the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee 5-2. Instead of passing down jail or prison sentences, the treatment courts assist non-violent offenders in getting the treatment they need so they can get out of the cycle of ending up on the streets or in the courtroom. Door County established its treatment court in 2020, approximately 30 years after the first one was established in the United States. Jacque says the success of treatment courts like Door County’s can hopefully inspire more in the state to be established and expand their services to include mental health.
Jacque’s Senate Bill 11, which included more funding for the Treatment Alternative and Diversion (TAD) grant program so mental health can be included, passed by a 7-0 margin in committee. The TAD program operates in 50 counties and two tribes, and 97 percent of program graduates have stayed out of prison. The bills are now waiting for the approval of the Assembly and the Senate and the signature of Governor Tony Evers.