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Republican Proposing New Treatment Pilot For Repeat Drunk Drivers

Rep. Schraa's Proposal Would Punish Offenders, Offer Intensive Treatment

Man walking line with law enforcement officer
Jim Mone/AP Photo

State Rep. Michael Schraa, R-Oshkosh, has introduced into the Assembly his proposed pilot program aimed at helping repeat drunken driving offenders keep their jobs.

Schraa calls the pilot “WIS GREAT,” which stands for Walking in Sobriety, Growth Recovery Employment and Transformation.

He said repeat drunk drivers risk losing their jobs, among other things, because of imprisonment.

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“Those individuals are going to, more than likely, lose their job,” Schraa said. “They’re going to lose their family. And when they’re released in five, six or seven years, what are they going to do? They’re going to go back to the same lifestyle, and it’s going to end up an ugly cycle the state ends up paying for.”

The pilot would take place at the abandoned Kempster Hall on the grounds of the Winnebago County Mental Health Institute in Oshkosh.

Those convicted of repeat drunken driving would live at the facility when they’re not working. The Republican compared it to Huber work release, but it would be different because participants would also have to complete an intensive 12- to 18-month alcoholic treatment program while at the facility.

Schraa’s pilot is in response to the 2015 Wisconsin Act 371, which increased penalties for people with four or more drunken driving offenses. Schraa said the bill has had “unintended consequences,” such as the high cost of imprisonment, a lack of therapy for those suffering from addiction, and continued recidivism of repeat drunk drivers.

Schraa hasn’t gotten an estimate from the state Legislative Fiscal Bureau on what his proposal would cost taxpayers, but said the approach would benefit.

“I just think it’s another way to think out of the box, for low-risk offenders rather than trying to jam another 2,000 individuals into our already overcrowded prison system, and we don’t have the money to build a new facility,” Schraa said.

No hearings have been scheduled on the proposal.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving did not respond to a request for comment by deadline.