Experts: Drug choice, not race, fuels disparities in Wisconsin drug courts

Racine County Judge Gerald Ptacek applauds after a defendant relates a story of success or progress in Racine County's Alcohol and Drug Treatment Court during this April 2012 session. Drug courts such as this one in Racine are seen as an effective way to cut incarceration costs and recidivism. But minority defendants in Wisconsin tend to be underrepresented in these diversion programs.

According to a recent study by Washington University in St. Louis, 90 percent of heroin users are white, and most are young and live in the suburbs. By contrast, hospital studies show that African-Americans are much more likely than whites to abuse cocaine. And one University of Wisconsin-Madison expert said heroin addicts tend to commit less violent crimes than those on cocaine; many drug courts exclude violent offenders from participating. The result: Some drug courts, such as the one in Dane County, are now full of white heroin users. Continue Reading

Frac sand news roundup: ‘I don’t care if the trucks are hauling frac sand, frozen pizzas or water. The volume of trucks is just unacceptable’

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The latest in Wisconsin frac sand. See our in-depth stories since 2011 on our frac sand project page. Eleven minor earthquakes in Oklahoma over the course of one weekend renewed concerns that hydraulic fracturing is to blame. RT July 14

New numbers from the U.S. Energy Information Administration show U.S. natural gas output at a record high, due mainly to more hydraulic fracturing in the Marcellus shale. Bloomberg Businessweek July 15

Pennsylvania-based Preferred Sands is planning to open a new frac sand facility in 2015 that will “extend our current geographic reach to service every major basin in North America,” according to president and CEO Michael O’Neill. Continue Reading