Alternative For Multiple OWI Offenders, Proposed Change To Utility Rates, The Week In Congress

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Drinking and driving remains a pressing issue in Wisconsin…but are there new ways we can approach the issue? In part three of ‘On The Rocks: A Look At Wisconsin’s Alcohol Culture,’ we learn about an alternative treatment plan for multiple OWI offenders. Then, we find out what our members of Congress are up to this week, and look at a proposed change to the way we pay for electricity in Wisconsin.

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  • Winnebago County's Alternative Program Has Become Model For Addressing Drunken Driving

    As Wisconsin struggles with an ongoing problem with drunken drivers, one county stands out with an alternative program for offenders that’s been one of the longest-running in the state.

    Winnebago County’s Safe Streets Treatment Option Program, or SSTOP, began in 2006 as an effort to cut down on repeat drunken driving offenses. It offers people who have been arrested for a second or third offense the option of treatment and probation, while reducing jail time.

    Program coordinator Michael Olig said the goal is to provide offenders with the tools they need to avoid further arrests.

    “It tries to balance rehabilitation and a consequence for the behavior in an effort to enhance community safety and return the person back to society as a productive citizen,” said Olig.

    People participating in the county’s program meet with Olig for an initial assessment. That could lead to educational programs at technical college or to treatment for substance abuse problems. Olig then routinely meets with participants for check-ins on their progress. He said that long-term personal contact is an important part of the program.

    “The relationship seems to have an effect on changing people’s behavior,” he said. “It’s recognizing that this individual did commit this offense, but treating the individual with respect and a full expectation that they are going to return back to be a productive member of society and no longer commit this offense.”

    Other counties, including Outagamie and Waupaca, have followed the SSTOP program’s lead, and Olig points toward the program’s results as a reason for that. To date, 716 people have completed SSTOP. Only 80 have reoffended, resulting in an 11 percent re-arrest rate — substantially lower than re-arrest rates among offenders who don’t participate in comparable programs.

    While the SSTOP program deals with individual offenders, Olig said he’d like to see the state’s culture change when it comes to drinking and driving.

    “Wisconsin doesn’t seem to have a problem with impaired driving,” he said. “They have a problem with people who are apprehended for impaired driving.”

    Olig said change on that front has been slow since the founding of Mothers Against Drunk Driving more than three decades ago.

    “There have been 2,800 laws passed since 1980, and we’re still talking about the issue,” he said. “There aren’t enough social pressures right now by the citizens to say, ‘Let’s take care of each other. Yeah, we want to drink, but let’s figure out how to get each other home safely.’”

    Editor’s Note: This story is the second part of a week-long series, “On the Rocks: A Look At Wisconsin’s Alcohol Culture” on the WPR program, “Central Time.”

  • On The Rocks: A Look At Wisconsin's Alcohol Culture: One County's Alternative OWI Option

    In the third installment of our weeklong series on alcohol use in Wisconsin, the head of an alternative OWI treatment program explains how the program works and discusses why people drink and drive.

    For more information about the series, click here.

  • Wisconsin Utility Companies Seeking Change To Electricity Rates

    Utility companies in Wisconsin are looking to change the way they charge for electricity. An energy researcher explains the proposed change, and what it would mean for utility companies and their consumers.

  • This Week In Congress – September 10, 2014

    USA Today Politics and Congress Editor Paul Singer joins Central Time for his weekly update on happenings in Congress.

Episode Credits

  • Rob Ferrett Host
  • Veronica Rueckert Host
  • Michael Olig Guest
  • Steve Kihm Guest
  • Paul Singer Guest
  • Amanda Magnus Producer
  • Chris Malina Producer
  • Galen Druke Producer

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