Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, is located in the southeastern part of the state and has a population of approximately 950,000. The county includes the city of Milwaukee, which is the largest city in the state of Wisconsin and the 26th most populous city in the United States.
The judicial system is comprised of the courts and the district attorney’s office, which work with law enforcement agencies to administer and enforce state and municipal law. The Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office, the City of Milwaukee Police Department (MPD), and the Milwaukee Fire Department (MFD) are the three largest entities providing public safety services in the region.
An EBDM Vision
By applying what the evidence tells us about what actually works in protecting the community and holding offenders accountable, Milwaukee County’s criminal justice system will make the smartest possible use of its limited resources, continuously improving its performance against quantifiable goals and reinvesting the savings in programs that reduce crime in the first place.
The EBDMI policy team was formed in 2010 as a subset of the executive committee of the Milwaukee County Community Justice Council, formed in 2008. The team includes the following elected officials and stakeholders:
- the county executive
- the sheriff
- a county board member
- the district attorney
- the city mayor
- the chief judge of Milwaukee County Circuit Court, First Judicial District
- the city’s chief of police
- the State of Wisconsin first assistant public defender
- the executive director of the Benedict Center
- representatives from the Department of Corrections and the State Office of Justice Assistance
- the United States Marshall of the Eastern District of Wisconsin (ex officio)
- the court’s pretrial services coordinator
- an inspector from the sheriff’s office
- the presiding judge of the felony division of the Milwaukee County Circuit Court
The team is staffed by the coordinator of the community justice council, a deputy district attorney, and a public defender.
The EBDM Initiative recognizes that “…true system change requires leadership from key policymakers, commitment throughout all levels of justice system organizations, and policy and practice alignment.” I couldn’t agree more. In the past, law enforcement in particular has been a closed society, silo-like endeavor. No longer. The EBDM Framework will further shape the work that we have already begun in interagency cooperation and systemic change, and as such its potential is truly exciting. – Sheriff David Clarke, Jr.
From the perspective of community activists, change comes really, really hard in Milwaukee. So the breadth of collaborative action to initiate EBDM within every facet of the justice system is nothing short of awesome. System-encompassing evidence-based practice-already being implemented, solidly on the drawing board, or still in the alluring “what if” stage-underscores such a high degree of commitment that talk of becoming a model for the nation is serious talk. – Kit McNally, Benedict Center Executive Director
Harm Reduction Goals
Milwaukee County’s harm reduction goals include the following:
- Reduce by 25% the number of people with mental health needs who lose their benefits due to being jailed or losing housing, and increase by 25% the number of individuals with mental health needs who are reconnected to the services they need within 20 days of arrest.
- Safely release and/or supervise 15% more pretrial detainees in the community rather than in jail, generating at least $1,000,000 in savings that can be reinvested in the community, and at the same time reduce by at least 40% the already low rates at which defendants waiting for trial fail to follow pretrial rules.
- Divert or defer prosecution in 10% more cases than we do currently, holding offenders accountable, compensating victims, and reducing recidivism, while generating at least $350,000 in savings that can be reinvested in the community.
- Demonstrate in a pilot project that by terminating probation as soon as an offender in need of treatment has received sufficient treatment, we can cut the cost of probation by at least 50% and at the same time reduce probation recidivism by 50%.