Updated on February 5th, 2024 at 08:51 pm

Governor Tony Evers announced a $15 million increase over the biennium in spending for Treatment Alternative & Diversion programs. 2005 Wisconsin ACT 25 established TAD programs in Wisconsin to support county efforts to provide treatment and diversion programs for non-violent offenders struggling with substance abuse.

What is a TAD Evaluation?

The programs typically operate using two models. In the pre-trial diversion model, the District Attorney agrees not to prosecute the defendant in exchange for the defendant fulfilling certain obligations, typically including drug or alcohol treatment, mental health treatment, job training, schooling, etc.

If the defendant successfully completes the requirements, the District Attorney does not press charges. If the Defendant fails to comply, the District Attorney is free to press charges. One benefit to this model is that the Defendant’s name and the charges never show up on Wisconsin Circuit Court Access, Wisconsin’s open records website containing information about all circuit court cases. This is often the place employers look first when researching a candidate for a position.

The alternative model involves the filing of a criminal complaint. After the Defendant has been charged, he or she pleads guilty to the crime. If the Defendant successfully participates in treatment after the sentencing hearing, with the monitoring of the court, the Defendant’s sentence is greatly reduced. If the Defendant fails to abide by the TAD program conditions, the Defendant is sentenced more harshly. This model permits the Defendant to reduce the penalty associated with the crime as well as provides valuable treatment and structure during the pendency of the program.

Does the TAD programs reduce recidivism?

Research shows that TAD programs reduce the risk of Defendant’s reoffending. In addition, TAD programs save local counties and the State funds otherwise spent housing inmates at local jails and prisons. Per, the Wisconsin Department of Justice, for every $1 invested in TAD, it yields benefits of $1.93 to the criminal justice system through averted incarceration and reduced crime.

The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute recently suggested several improvements to TAD programs including offering the program to more offenders, longer periods of outpatient abuse treatment, and increasing funding to expand the program to additional counties. Currently TAD programs are offered in Ashland, Bayfield, Burnett, Washburn, Dane, Rock, Milwaukee, Washington, and Wood Counties.

Always Speak with your Attorney

A defendant should thoroughly discuss with his or her attorney whether participating in a TAD program is the correct decision. For clients looking to end their interaction with the criminal justice system as quickly as possible, a TAD program may not be the answer. In addition, for offenders who are not committed to maintaining sobriety or complying with probation like conditions, participating in a TAD program may also be an unwise decision. All participants in a TAD program must undergo substance abuse treatment, drug testing and monitoring.

For those clients dedicated to obtaining and maintaining sobriety, TAD programs provide the resource network, qualified treatment providers and structure that a client may not be able to find or pay for on their own. TAD program graduations are genuinely happy events with participants often detailing dramatic turnarounds in their life including reconnecting with family members, finding permanent housing and new employment.

If you are charged criminally with an offense involving substance abuse, it is worth considering participating in a TAD program. The attorneys at Vanden Heuvel & Dineen, S.C. will thoroughly explain your legal options to you, including your eligibility for participation in a TAD program. Contact us today at 262-250-1976.