Shawano County instates drug court to combat addiction

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SHAWANO COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) -- Another local community is now taking steps in the legal system to address the meth and opioid epidemic. The Shawano County Board just approved the drug court concept set to begin in 2018—moving toward giving drug addicts help instead of jail time.

Shawano County courthouse

"I decided to start taking courses in substance abuse to find out what's driving the behavior,” Shawano County Sheriff's Captain Thomas Tuma told Action 2 News, saying he wants to slow down the rapidly increasing rate of drug abuse in his county.

"I've spoken with folks coming out of our jail, and they acknowledge that they're going right back to the lifestyle of crime and using and behavior that got them here in the first place, because nothing was done to alleviate that psychological addictive component of this problem."

Action 2 News has covered the start of a drug court in Marinette County from its early stages, and the program has now seen more than 30 people go through the program.

Tuma says Shawano is encouraged by the success of Marinette's drug court — which isn't a "get out of jail free" card but a lot of hard work, getting clean.

“Punishment coupled with treatment opportunities and incentive to work. They're going to be drug tested and they're going to be held to account. They're going to appear in court on a regular basis and be subject to random drug tests. So for the individuals that want to get better that are caught in the cycle of addiction, it's going to be a great opportunity,” said Capt. Tuma.

A panel will determine who is most likely to succeed in the program, with the final say coming from a prosecutor.

Drug court is scheduled to begin this coming January. They hope to help 10-13 people in the first year and even more in the years to follow.

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