Study shows SSTOP program reduces the number of repeat drunk drivers in Outagamie County

Appleton, Wis. (WBAY)- A study conducted in Outagamie County shows that a program intended to reduce the number of repeat drunk drivers is working.

It's called SSTOP, which stands for the Safe Streets Treatment Options Program.

The results of the study conducted by the UW Milwaukee Department of Criminal Justice were presented Tuesday night to the Outagamie County Board of Supervisors.

In an effort to reduce the number of repeat drunks drivers, the SSTOP program has been in place since 2010 in Outagamie County, but now the county for the first time has a study to show it's having success.

Outagamie Co. Executive Tom Nelson said, "From this study we have found that it's doing exactly what's it suppose to be doing and it showed a recidivism, a recidivism rate of less than 31 percent. So we've seen a reduction in repeat offenders by a significant margin."

Outagamie County adopted the program after its initial launch in Winnebago County four years prior.

Instead of jail, it offers repeat offenders a probation and treatment program as a way of sobering up.

Tina Frieburger is the chair of the UW-Milwaukee Department of Criminal Justice.

She said, "We looked at whether people had additional convictions for all offenses, not just OWI, and we also looked at how many subsequent charges they had in which they were sentenced to jail and we also found that they had fewer convictions overall in additional to the OWIs."

Taxpayers too have seen a benefit. County officials say it costs about fifty dollars a day to house an inmate in the jail, versus about a dollar fifty to participate in the SSTOP program.

"Jail is a behavior modification tool, which really isn't that effective. So, with this program, instead of sitting in a jail cell, they're going to treatment, they're seeing a case manager, they're seeing the appropriate people to help to assist them in maintaining a good lifestyle," said Bernie Vetrone of Outagamie County Criminal Treatment Services.