CRANDON - A new Pew Research study conducted in February shows that a large majority of Americans support treatment for non-violent drug users instead of mandatory jail sentences.
67 percent of people surveyed believe the government and courts should focus on treatment for drug users.
Judges and prosecutors face a tough judgement and balance of figuring out the appropriate punishment for non-violent drug users in court.
Forest County Prosecutor Chuck Simono says he sees a remarkably high number of repeat offenders in the county even after spending time in jail.
"Just from what I've seen in Forest County over the last six years, I would put the recidivism rate in excess of 70 to 80 percent," Simono said.
Many Wisconsin communities are turning to drug treatment courts. It's a program with courts for non-violent drug users that combines treatment, sanctions, drug tests and care for when they've stopped using drugs.
Simono says the social movement has shifted to more of a focus on treatment to get people rehabilitated and back in the community. He seems more hopeful for people successfully going through a drug treatment program.
"They're going to return to the community, they're going to get a job, they're going to be productive," Simono said. "They're going to help contribute to a positive way of life rather than what we see when we just jail people."
Leaders in Forest County, including the Forest County Potawatomi, hope to form a treatment court to help users and cut costs.
"The cost to just continually jail individuals is just enormous," Simono said. "Unfortunately for some individuals that's going to be the only answer, others will find treatment successful."
Prosecutors, judges and social workers want to rehabilitate everyone, but sometimes even treatment isn't the answer. Simono says some people decline treatment for jail instead. Others repeatedly go through treatment without fully grasping the rehab.
"We have others that insist on treatment that have been five times already," Simono said. "They're still not adapting and utilizing the coping skills that they've been acquiring over all of their trips to treatment."
Leaders in Forest County hope to win a federal grant that would pay for the setup of the court.
The treatment court could be running as soon as this year if they win the grant, but the county and Forest County Potawatomi don't have the funding to start the court without federal help.
Wisconsin has around 50 drug treatment courts throughout the state.
MADISON - The Wisconsin Elections Commission has agreed to lift overseas ballot restrictions to avoid a legal battle.
The U.S. Department of Justice warned earlier this month that it's preparing to sue because Wisconsin law doesn't let temporary overseas voters to obtain ballots electronically or to submit downloadable back-up ballots in case they don't have time to return an official ballot.
Federal law allows all overseas voters to obtain ballots electronically and submit back-up ballots. Assembly Republicans passed a bill that would have aligned Wisconsin's statutes with the federal law but the measure died in April after Senate Republicans added language limiting special legislative elections.
MADISON - Wisconsin Elections Commission staff plan to hire a half-dozen new employees and upgrade software to bolster election security.
The commission received a $7 million federal grant in March to upgrade security after Russian actors tried to access a state Department of Workforce Development system before the 2016 election.
Staff told the commission Thursday that the Department of Administration has approved hiring six new four-year security positions, including an information technology project manager, an elections security trainer and a voting systems specialist.
MERRILL - Three years ago, Lincoln County got good news.
The federal government planned to spend $1.5 million to help give rural parts of the county broadband internet access. It was part of Frontier Communications' agreement to accept $283 million for broadband expansion nationwide.
But then, the contractors, equipment, and better internet were slow to arrive.
Now, Frontier is finally at work, but plenty of people are still waiting anxiously for their high-speed connection.
FOX CROSSING - State justice officials say a police officer in the Fox Valley has fatally shot a suspect.
The Department of Justice says Fox Crossing police responded to a report of a man threatening people at Fritze Park Wednesday afternoon. Police say numerous people called about a man who they said was acting erratically and was armed with a knife.
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