Quite a few dignitaries and members of the Washington County justice system were on hand Tuesday at the Old Courthouse Museum as Gov. Scott Walker signed a pair of bills dealing with alcohol and drug treatment.
“One of the biggest challenges we hear particularly from judges is they’d like to find more alternatives to incarcerating someone in the state prison system but they just need the resources to do this,” Walker said.
Earlier this week Gov. Walker signed another bill that automatically makes a fourth OWI offense a felony. “Multiple drunk driving offenses are a menace and a safety risk to the people in the state,” he said. “Statewide this gives the criminal justice system and judges the ability to sentence people so they can get the treatment and assistance they need.”
Local assembly Rep. Bob Gannon is co-sponsor of AB 657 which adds $2 million in funding to the Treatment and Diversion program.
The measure hits close to home for Gannon, who is a recovering alcoholic.
“People have an addictive gene and what this legislation does is hopefully encourage people to trade a little bit of jail time for a lot of sobriety,” he said.
The legislation allows a convicted individual to get some very intensive alcohol and drug treatment and Gannon said that is really what’s needed.
“This program deals with the main component of repeat drunk drivers, and that is alcoholism,” Gannon said. “Until we get these individuals sober, we will always have the fear that they’ll drive while intoxicated or drive with a revoked license.”
The other measure is AB 839 – Participation in a sobriety program