Sunday, July 16, 2006

Study Shows Bucher and van Hollen Are Wrong

Amidst all of the "throw away the key" blather and political posturing from the Republican candidates for AG, Democrat Kathleen Falk has called for alternatives to incarceration and for treatment of non-violent offenders. Paul Bucher has launched a Willie Hortonesque website which threatens all the good voters with images of impending disaster if we don't lock everyone away.

Now a court assessment evaluator for the Federal DOJ has released a study showing the benefits of alternative sentencing and treatment before incarceration. University of Wisconsin-La Crosse sociology professor Bill Zollweg has completed an assessment of LaCrosse county's Drug Court that shows a savings to the county of just over a million dollars each year.

In the four years that the court has been in operation only 12 percent of the drug court graduates have been arrested again for any offense. Only 4.3 percent have either failed or missed drug tests Zollweg's findings show putting the lie to Bucher and van Hollen's scare tactics.

From the LaCrosse Tribune article:
Elliott Levine, head of the regional Wisconsin Public Defenders Office, said he
is pleased that the evaluation shows the county's program is effective and
efficient."It's effective at providing highly cost-efficient treatment and saves
the county money," Levine said. "This is more than just a fluke program. The
reality is as proved nationally since 1989, these programs are effective and
vital to the criminal justice system."

It's time to move beyond the Law-and-Order swagger of the boys running for AG and to listen to the professionals who have to deal with the after effects of those outdated theories. Let's start to look at alternatives before Rock County sinks $100 million into a jail that will fill in just over a decade if we don't change the way we administer justice.

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