Drug education group offers free sentencing alternative
Representatives of a Hartland organization working to prevent drug and alcohol addiction say they want to provide Lake Country Municipal Court with a cost-effective, hassle-free alternative sentencing program for teenage drug and alcohol offenders.
The court serves 17 municipalities: the villages of Merton, Hartland, Lac La Belle, Summit, Nashotah, Dousman, Chenequa, Sullivan, Sussex and Oconomowoc Lake; towns of Oconomowoc, Merton, Ixonia, Delafield, Lisbon and Erin; and the City of Oconomowoc.
Sandi Lybert, program coordinator for Your Choice - Live, said the organization's Detour program would consist of education and counseling for teenagers who have been cited for underage drinking or drug use, as well as their parents.
Lybert is expected to outline the details of the program to the court's operations subcommittee Thursday morning at the Oconomowoc Lake Village Hall.
The first goal of the program, according to Lybert, is to help offenders and their families reduce the risk of alcohol or drug addiction.
The second goal focuses on helping the offenders and their families understand and accept the need to make changes in their lifestyle to protect them from the consequences of addiction or abuse.
The program would include a required three-hour discussion with the parents, the teenager and counselors regarding the signs of drug and alcohol abuse, establishing boundaries and understanding the consequences of abuse or addiction.
"We want them to understand that the consequences of drug or alcohol use can be potentially much more serious than just showing up in court, paying a fine, and leaving," she said.
Lybert said Your Choice -Live is prepared to take on nearly all of the administrative tasks involved in enrolling the offenders in the program, tracking their progress and notifying the court if the offenders successfully complete the program.
In addition, she said, the program can be implemented at no cost to the court. The $150 fee for the 12 hours of class time, program materials and counseling sessions are paid by the offender, she said.
"There are about 10 percent of the teenagers who are never going to drink or use drugs. There is another 10 percent who are always going to drink and use drugs, no matter what we do. It is that 80 percent in the middle that we are focused on," she added.
Because underage drinking and minor drug use are usually municipal offenses, almost any Lake Country youngster with the potential of abuse or addiction is likely to wind up in the local municipal court.
Lybert should know, since her son Tyler appeared in Lake Country Municipal Court 17 times as a result of his nearly 10-year addiction to alcohol. He is in the fourth year of his recovery and is one of the featured speakers in the programs Your Choice - Live has presented to dozens of Southeastern Wisconsin schools.
Lybert and her husband, Rick, founded the organization in 2009 in an effort to provide support services and resources to other Lake Country families battling teenage drug or alcohol addiction.
Since then it has grown into a not-for-profit organization with nearly three dozen volunteers, nearly all of them from Lake Country, and another three dozen local business, corporate and community organization sponsors.
Tyler's sister, Ashleigh Nowakowski, has become a certified instructor in Prime for Life, a national abuse risk reduction program that served as the template for the Detour program.
Because of Tyler's underage drinking, the Lybert family established a rapport with Hartland Police Chief Robert J.Rosch.
Rosch, a member of the court's operations subcommittee, asked fellow committee members last month to consider the Detour program as a possible alternative to fines imposed for municipal offenses.
The ultimate decision is likely to be made by Judge Timothy Kaye
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