A review of DeClute's record on CCAP shows that she has pretty much been a one-woman crime spree since 2003. So, many will no doubt scream and shout when she is given probation with drug court as a condition (and I do think that is highly likely). However, punishment and deterrence are not the only goals of a sentence; and for serious drug users, prison rarely works to steer them on the right track.
Look at the circumstances of Ms. DeClute's case. She apparently went into Hangers and Hems while her dad was gassing up the car next door. She pulled out an Airsoft pistol and robbed them of $200. This looks like someone pretty desperate for quick cash for a fix. Indeed, much of the rest of her criminal history, thefts, forgeries, etc., also tell the story of someone committing crimes for money to buy drugs. This pattern will likely only end if she gets real help and support for her drug addiction. Regrettably, most people can't afford that, and for better or worse, the drug court will put her in that environment.
The La Crosse County judges know that drug court works far better than prison to end the cycle of drugs and crime, so they bite the bullet and choose results over punishment and deterrence. Read an article wherein the La Crosse County judges publically support the drug court against the La Crosse Police Chief's public call for harsher sentencing.
When a person is sentenced to a La Crosse County Drug Court disposition, their sentence is usually withheld and they are placed on probation. Drug court is made a condition of the probation. That means they can be sentenced again if they are revoked from drug court and/or probation. The other alternative is sentencing them now, say to five years prison, but then staying the sentence until the person completes probation/drug court. If they are revoked from and/or drug court, they will serve that prison sentence. Either way, the person holds the keys to the prison in their own hands.
If Ms. DeClute is given drug court, then she will pretty much be turning herself over to the drug court team and the drug court judge. Her probation conditions will probably include more time in the La Crosse County Jail. The team will decide when she will get out on electronic monitoring, which is likely how she will serve the remaining portion of her jail sentence--if she has no violations. However, the team will make sure there is plenty of jail time left available in case she fails to play by their rules.
One of the first rules of drug court is "don't use", and Ms. DeClute will be closely monitored in that regard. If she does use, she'll get caught. She probably be held in jail until the team and judge decide she is ready for another chance. If she continues to use, she'll be revoked, and will probably be sentenced to prison. It's up to her. If she succeeds, the savings to the tax payers--not to mention her otherwise future victims--will be enormous.