Defendant has a history going back at least 10 years and they are all mostly felony drug cases, felony thefts, absconding, and burglary. The defendant uses drug court to stay out of prison. At what point would they just say that time needs to be served and not allow the use of drug court this time. There are 3 felony possession charges (one or two amounted to trafficking) and felony burglary.
Drug courts recognize the fact that relapse is a reality of addiction treatment. Although strict consequences such as county jail time are usually imposed for a minor violation, drug courts are sometimes more forgiving in terms of allowing folks to remain under their tough supervision regimen. I understand that this treatment model highly successful, but only long term studies will prove that, and these techniques are still relatively new. The alternative of imprisoning people is certainly much more expensive than maintaining them in the community, where defendants can often continue to hold down jobs and support their families.
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Why? - Probably because sending someone to prison is extremely costly to the taxpayers and is not nearly as effective at getting people to get their addiction issues under control using drug court. It isn't always effective in the long-term, but studies have definitively shown that it is way more effective than simple incarceration.
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So, fairly or unfairly, your question has actually hit upon a sore spot for me, and so I'm going to try to respond thoroughly to it because I suspect there are other people who view these questions here who might take the same position you do, and I genuinely believe it to be an incredibly myopic and short-sighted viewpoint on the addiction issue in Wisconsin in general and Milwaukee County specifically.
First, you say that this defendant has a lengthy history of drug cases and property crimes as if that's somehow supposed to be surprising and horrifying. I mean, no kidding! Up until the last few years the criminal justice system around here "solved" addiction issues by locking people up, then letting them out on Extended Supervision to an already over-taxed probation department whose agents primarily just told them to piss in a cup and then locked them back up again for testing positive. And, sure, tough love might work when we're talking about less addictive substances (ex: weed), but when you're talking about cocaine, heroin, pills, etc. the brain chemistry gets so fundamentally altered by its use that suggesting that you can just quit by sheer will-power alone is not only foolish, but also incredibly dangerous. When I have clients with addiction issues, I can virtually guarantee you they have non-violent property crimes (and, not for nothing, but the difference between a theft/entry into a locked building and a burglary is often purely in the discretion of the prosecutor, because the fact patterns are often identical) and probably some light delivery charges because the addiction often gets so severe that they can't keep a steady job and steal or sell their stash for drugs.
Second, nobody uses drug court to "stay out of prison." I'm sorry, but they just don't. There is a gross misconception of what Drug Treatment Court is in Milwaukee County because it's handled by the same judge who also handles general Deferred Prosecution Agreement cases. Drug Treatment Court here is a 4-phase program developed and honed in real time with consultation from ALL of the stakeholders in the system. The people in DTC are often so far into their addiction that they have to basically recreate their entire lives, meaning they have to juggle staying sober AND finding employment AND finding housing AND eliminating virtually everyone they interact with daily (because they're usually other users and thus unhealthy for them). And in return, when people enter DTC, the focus is not on whether they test clean every time but rather whether they are working hard on figuring out WHAT triggers them and fixing the underlying issues. So, yeah, we applaud people for having 10 weeks of sobriety and let them pick a gift card from a fish bowl, because for a lot of them that's the longest they've been sober in years. And, yeah, we don't necessarily treat it like the world is crashing down if they relapse because we assume it's going to happen at some point, and we care more about whether or not they regret it and are willing to fix what caused it. But to suggest that it's the easier path shows a dramatic misunderstanding of drug court, because I guarantee you that it is FAR easier to just take some jail or prison time and then get out and go back to doing what they were doing.
Third, and most important: there's this perception that addicts should just "try harder" and stop using illegal substances. And, fine, they're wrong for abusing controlled substances. But do you smoke? Do you drink? Can you function without a cup of coffee or tea each morning? How about that restaurant you can't resist the food from? Or that phone you check your Facebook status on every 15 minutes? We all have things we're addicted to, and while I'm not going to get into what should and shouldn't be legalized it's always a bit galling to me to see the judgment many have because their addictions are more "acceptable" than other people's addictions when, really, it's the same thing.
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