Research shows that our new and innovative programming efforts can lead to better outcomes for offenders. Offenders who complete these programs have lower recidivism rates and are in a better position to positively contribute to society.
Universal Screening Program: Milwaukee County Pretrial Services has a mission to reduce pretrial failure to appear rates, reduce re-arrest rates, enhance public safety, reduce overcrowding at the County Correctional Facilities, and enhance the processing and adjudication of criminal cases. In 2012, in an effort to improve the County’s pretrial system, the County Executive funded a Universal Screening Program that collaboratively involved the Office of the Chief Judge and JusticePoint (a pretrial services provider). Funding is now provided for the screening of over 20,000 arrestees annually at the County Correctional Facility – Central (CCFC). Various assessment instruments are used to determine an arrestee’s risk level for pretrial misconduct, which is defined as missing court or being rearrested while on pretrial release. This assessment data is then used for consideration in making diversion, deferred prosecution, bail recommendation, and pretrial release decisions.
The Universal Screening Program is a critical piece to ensuring that the pretrial release/detention decision and ordering of pretrial conditions are evidence-based and employ research-supported best practices. The program identifies individuals who may be suitable for available alternatives to incarceration – alternatives like diversion, deferred prosecution, drug treatment court and the Day Reporting Center. The program provides the County with data that is essential to effectively monitor and manage pretrial population trends and to target available interventions in a cost-effective manner.
PreTrial Services: The Pretrial Supervision Program provides supervision and case management services to defendants ordered to supervision as a condition of their bail. By moving away from a one-size-fits-all pretrial program to individualized supervision strategies, Milwaukee County has been able to triple the number of individuals it supervises pretrial without a similar increase in costs. While the County continues to collect more data, the outcomes to date are promising – a 2013 study showed that 87 percent of felony defendants released pretrial had no new criminal activity, and 84 percent appeared for all of the court hearings.
Early Intervention Programs: Milwaukee was one of seven cities across the United States chosen to participate in the Evidence-Based Decision Making in Local Criminal Justice Systems Initiatives (EBDMI), an opportunity sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Corrections (NIC), and the Office of Justice Programs (OJP). The Milwaukee Community Justice Council (MCJC) Executive Committee oversaw a rigorous technical process that culminated in the creation of the Milwaukee County Early Intervention Programs, a set of programs that enable the system to hold offenders accountable, reduce the overall crime rate and recidivism, and give taxpayers a better return on the dollars they invest in the criminal justice system.
Early intervention programs such as the Milwaukee County Diversion Program and the Milwaukee County Deferred Prosecution Program (DPA) aim to reduce the long-term recidivism risk of individuals involved in the justice system while also ensuring public safety and the efficient allocation of limited criminal justice dollars. The Diversion program offers those who are determined to be at low risk for re-offense the opportunity to be diverted from the justice system. The DPA offers those who are determined to be moderate to high risk for re-offense the opportunity to have their original charge reduced or even dismissed if specific conditions are met.