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Report: State should spend drastically more on treatment instead of prison


MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Republicans say they’re willing to at least consider a recent study that proposes mental health treatment instead of prison for Wisconsin’s non-violent criminals.

The Human Impact Partners of California says the Badger State can reduce crime and save money by helping non-violent offenders solve their addiction problems and get mental treatment.

The group suggests the state should spend 75-million-dollars a year instead of the current one-million on its existing alternative treatment programs.

It said the state should budget $20-million for mental health care, job programs, and related items to help non-violent offenders.

On Wednesday, Republican Governor Scott Walker said the proposals are worth considering – even though it could take a long time for adult inmates to achieve a pay-off.

Assembly Republican Garey Bies of Sister Bay, a former sheriff, said his colleagues are getting more interested in considering measures that can cut the growth in prison costs while maintaining public safety.

Over the past two years, the GOP majority in the Legislature dropped a previous Democratic program that released prisoners early for good behavior.

It was supposed to be for non-violent offenders, but Republicans said drug suspects and other hard-core criminals were being let go.

Brown County recently started special courts to deal with drugs and veterans that focus on treatment rather over jail sentences.