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NEWS STORIES

Study: More want treatment instead of jail for non-violent drug users; Drug treatments courts on rise in Wisconsin Submitted: 04/04/2014

Adam Fox
10 p.m. Anchor/Reporter
afox@wjfw.com


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.



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 IN OTHER NEWS

RHINELANDER - Many people in the Northwoods got the chance to try out canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards this weekend.

Mel's Trading Post held a paddle demo day in Rhinelander.

Anyone could come out to Hodag Park to try out the equipment.

The store's owner thinks it's good for people to try boats out before buying them. 

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TOMAHAWK - Thousands of people came out Sunday to see the Main Street Memories Car Show in Tomahawk.

People from as far as Minnesota came to see about 300 cars.

Tomahawk Main Street Inc. hosted the show, which has been going on for 21 years. Adults and kids came out to see many different cars, the oldest being a 101-year-old 1914 Model T Ford.

Cars ranged in color and style.

"This is a 1937 three quarter truck, military vehicle," said American Legion Post Commander Lowell Liberty. "It holds the capacity of two guys in the front, and six, or an infantry squad in the back."

Kids could also enjoy a petting zoo and games throughout the afternoon. Car owners hope more people come and enjoy the show next year.

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ST. GERMAIN - There might not be snow on the ground right now, but that doesn't mean people can't enjoy snowmobiles. 

More than 5,000 people were in St. Germain on Sunday for the Classic Sled Roundup. 

The Snowmobile Hall of Fame in St. Germain organized the event.

This is the 11th year of the event. 

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WISCONSIN DELLS - A 21-year-old Chicago man who went missing in the Wisconsin River near the Wisconsin Dells remains missing.

Police in Columbia County are using sonar to try and find his body. Police say the man went under water around 7:15pm on Saturday while swimming to shore and didn't resurface.

Divers worked until midnight to find the man. Search efforts continued Sunday morning. Police say the man was fishing on a rock island area and appeared to get caught in a current while swimming back to shore.

Family members and witnesses tried to help him but couldn't. The victim's name is not being released at this time.

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STAR LAKE - Three people remain in the hospital after a car crossed the center line on County Highway K in Star Lake on Saturday.

The Vilas County Sheriff's Office got the call of an accident around 3:45pm Saturday.

51-year-old Eric Sather of Conover was heading east when he crossed the center line and hit another car. 67-year-old John Schroeder from New Holstein and his wife, Jane, were in the other car.

One male driver was flown to Aspirus Hospital in Wausau, while the female passenger was taken to Howard Young Medical Center in Woodruff. The other male driver was taken to Eagle River Memorial Hospital and later flown to Marshfield.

Alcohol may be a factor in the crash.

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WOODRUFF - Two events in Woodruff helped raise money for two local groups.

On Saturday there was a craft fair and car show at the Woodruff Town Hall.

The Dr. Kate Museum organized the craft fair.

The money made went to a scholarship the museum gives out.

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LAND O' LAKES - The Land O Lakes Area Artisans (LOLA) Center went through some remodeling for its classroom.

After a few months, the classroom is finally finished, and it's being dedicated to a woman who left a big impact on the community.

Friends and family got together to remember Sandra Brown, who shared her love of art with the Land O Lakes community. She passed away in 2010.

Sandra gave her time and skills to areas that didn't have art programs, and they found a way to show their appreciation.

"The space has been enlarged greatly," said LOLA President Lynn Richie. "It was a coffee shop originally. And it's being dedicated to Sandra Hardy Brown, who was instrumental in bringing us money through a memorial fund when she passed away, and it helped kick start our art classes."

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