Budget Committee Hears Testimony Pushing For More Alternative Treatment Program Funding

Representative For Faith Groups Asks For Funding Boost For Treatment, Diversion Programs


State lawmakers are being asked to put more money into drug and alcohol treatment for nonviolent prisoners at an ongoing Joint Finance Committee hearing in Milwaukee.

Joel Gaugin of the faith groups SOPHIA and WISDOM thanked lawmakers for a funding boost two years ago. Gaugin said it’s time to expand a treatment and diversion program.

“Diverting nonviolent offenders into substance abuse treatment keeps them out of jail and correctional facilities, thereby saving bedspace and taxpayer dollars — as well as treating the underlying addiction that might have influenced the commission of a crime or may contribute to future criminal behavior,” he said.

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He added: “That last sentence was not propaganda dreamed up by WISDOM. It was copied verbatim from the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s TAD website.”

Gaugin said SOPHIA and a related group WISDOM are calling for $20 million a year for treatment and diversion with at least half the money being dedicated to counties with the greatest need. The Finance Committee hearing will last all day Friday.