Chief justice praises Pierce County drug courtELLSWORTH — Pierce County’s drug court system was praised Tuesday by Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson.
By: By Jason Schulte, RiverTown staff Writer, The Republican Eagle
ELLSWORTH — Pierce County’s drug court system was praised Tuesday by Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson.
“Pierce County was one of the earliest counties in the state to use a drug court,” said Abrahamson, who visited the Pierce County Courthouse Tuesday morning. “It takes a lot of planning and training to do it. Hats off to them.”
Abrahamson attended the program’s 13th graduation on Tuesday.
“It’s a public safety program,” said the chief justice, who added that most counties in Wisconsin have drug courts, but not all of them.
“Every drug court runs different to fit the county needs,” she said. “We want to eliminate drug and alcohol dependency.”
Pierce County Circuit Court Judge Robert Wing explained the basics of the program, which started in Pierce County in 2004.
Most graduates complete the program in about 18 months, then must go through after-care, treatment and weekly urinanalyses. They have to remain employed throughout the program and appear in front of the Judge about 50 times.
“The motivation is to stay out of prison,” Wing said.
Linda Hoyt, county drug court coordinator, said it’s like to learning live all over again. “They’ve dealt with their problems in the past with drug and alcohol,” she said. “Now they are learning to live sober.”
Abrahamson said that as chief justice, one of her roles is to act as chief administrator for the courts, “to promote and support innovative programs that are being administered in various counties.”
Abrahamson was appointed to the Supreme Court by Gov. Patrick Lucey in 1976. She was then the only woman on the court.
She won election to the court in 1979 and re-election in 1989 and 1999. Since Aug. 1, 1996, she has been chief justice. Her current term expires July 31, 2009.