A common misconception that befalls some stakeholders in the effort to increase targeted, effective treatment or placements for nonviolent juvenile offenders is that such treatment is not available outside of urban settings or larger cities.

The Village of Oconomowoc Lake, Wisconsin, pop. 595, proves that misconception may not hold true for much longer.

At a recent meeting of the Village’s Municipal Court officials, representatives of a substance abuse program described how substance abuse could be a far more effective deterrent for youths charged with drinking offenses or very minor drug offenses.

Currently, those youths are usually just given a fine, often paid by their parents, and nothing is done to curb the underlying drug or alcohol issues.

Instead, juveniles could be placed in an addiction and education and counseling class, a portion of which involves the family. This alternative meets the rubric for an effective intervention for juveniles: targeted, tailored treatment of underlying issues and familial involvement.

If implemented, the Village of Oconomowoc Lake could be setting its own court system on the right track, preventing more addictions in more youth, and serving as an example for small towns across the country.