Milwaukee’s Drug Treatment Court 30Sep18

Milwaukee’s Drug Treatment Court 30Sep18

You may or may not be aware of Milwaukee’s Drug Treatment Court. It started in 2009 and is designed to decrease repeat drug crimes, provide an alternative to incarceration, improve public safety, and manage limited criminal justice resources. It focuses on coordinating resources for substance abuse treatment and recovery.

Simply put, the Milwaukee Drug Treatment Court enables nonviolent felony and habitual misdemeanor offenders, with substance abuse problems, to avoid incarceration while getting help for their addiction(s). The underlying assumption is the participant’s criminal activity is connected to their addiction, and through rehabilitation they have the opportunity to end the cycle of substance abuse and drug-related crime to live a sober, crime free life.

It’s not easy to get into the program, it accepts a limited number of people a year and has tight eligibility requirements. Some of the requirements are:

  • Milwaukee County resident;
  • Age 18 or older;
  • Drug or alcohol dependent;
  • Be charged with a felony, or be a chronic, habitual misdemeanor offender;
  • Be facing substantial incarceration;
  • Meet the federal definition of “non-violent offender”;
  • Be amenable to the drug treatment court program.

It is a voluntary program requiring a commitment from the participant to engage in an intensive program of treatment for 12 to 18 months. Once admitted to the program, participants move through 5 phases before completion. Each phase has stringent requirements and requires completion before moving to the next phase. Some of the requirements include:

  • Abstinence from drugs and alcohol;
  • Placement in community based treatment;
  • Random urine drug screens and breathalyzer tests;
  • Reconnection with family;
  • Referral for special requirements such as parenting skills, anger management, and education;
  • Learn self-sufficiency;
  • Job training;
  • Appearance in drug treatment court once a month;
  • Obtain stable housing;
  • Aftercare and relapse prevention plan in place

Less than 30% complete this program according to the Phase V speakers I heard a couple of weeks ago. Phase V is available for continued recovery work after a participant has completed the Drug Treatment Court. The number may seem low, but I imagine the 30% that do complete the program feel otherwise. For them, this program is a lifesaver. Not only do they get help finding and maintaining recovery, but they also get a break from legal charges that can devastate a person’s future. It is a chance to start over. I am grateful for those that do have the opportunity to change the course of their life. I hope they continue to expand the drug treatment court so they can help more people. Our communities need more programs like this. If your community does not have a drug treatment court, suggest they start one. You can use Milwaukee as an example.

Read this article to read about one woman’s journey:

For more detailed information on Milwaukee’s Drug Treatment Court, see below:

About the Author

Kristin Waite-Labott is a registered nurse and recovering addict who has firsthand experience with the challenges of addiction. She now works as the Head Nurse Coach at Veritus, a virtual treatment program for nurses with substance use and mental health disorders, and is dedicated to helping nurses overcome addiction and making a difference in the lives of others. Kristin is passionate about addressing the growing problem of addiction among healthcare professionals and encourages open discussions and action to prevent it from spreading further.

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