June 09, 2020
County Board Chair Analiese Eicher, 608-571-6823
County Board

As the county, state, nation, and world experience the pain and destruction of the last weeks, The County Board calls on the community and all local elected officials to learn, reflect and reform.  For decades the Dane County Board has been an incubator for policy solutions.  In some ways, the Board has moved swiftly and decisively toward system improvements, but far too often the political will, the public support, and the ability to change has waned. 


“The major projects, reports and collaborative efforts of the past continue to be relevant and we still can learn from the recommendations of those effort. There is no magic key, nor national expert that will transform our system.  It will take Dane County’s cities, communities, businesses and health systems working together to create an equitable Dane County” said County Board Supervisor Shelia Stubbs (District 23).   


Over the last several years, the Dane County Board of Supervisors has researched, engaged, and resourced community action around racial equity and criminal justice reform.  Members of the public are asked to read and reflect on the work that has been done as the County looks forward and continues to push for change.


Some of the biggest catalysts for racial equity improvements have included:


“The Dane County Board continues its commitment to intentionally dismantling racism within the criminal justice and human service systems” said County Board Supervisor Carousel Bayrd (District 8), the longest serving current member of the Public Protection and Judiciary Committee.  "The launch of the fines and fees subcommittee and a commitment to bail reform are just two of several steps we can take to disrupt our systems." 


Supervisor Maureen McCarville (District 22), Chair of the Public Protection and Judiciary Committee announced that over the coming months, the County will be intentionally and thoughtfully undertaking the following actions: 


1) The County Board’s Public Protection & Judiciary Committee (PP&J) will be reviewing Dane County's bail policies.  Currently, approximately 80% of individuals booked into Dane County’s Jail are released without bail.  The PP&J Committee will review what happens to the remaining 20% and how to expand resources so that individuals are not in jail for lack of ability to pay cash bail.  


2) The Criminal Justice Council Racial Disparities Subcommittee will work to expand restorative court alternatives throughout the County.  Currently 14 of 23 Dane County Municipalities are partners with the restorative court.  


3) The County Board will undertake a review of recommendations from the Investigating Solutions to Racial Disparities and Mental Health Challenges in the Dane County Jail and Throughout Dane County’s Criminal Justice System Workgroups and Disproportionate Minority Contact Report, and work to implement recommendations not yet enacted, including the creation of weekend initial appearance court, documentation of charging decisions from the District Attorney's office, and advocacy for a change in state probation and parole revocations. 


4) The County Board is calling on other legislative elected leaders in communities with law enforcement agencies, including Madison, Middleton, Sun Prairie, Fitchburg, and Monona, to join us in convening a joint criminal justice policy committee, where we can review use of force polices and arrest policies throughout the County.  


5) Last week the County Board established the Public Protection and Judiciary Committee Fines and Fees Subcommittee.  Supervisor Bayrd pointed out that the subcommittee will review the current fines and fees assessed in the civil, human services, and criminal justice systems and determine how Dane County can reduce or eliminate these fees, fines, and costs. The review will include analysis of the financial hardship and justice hardship placed on low income individuals and their families because of fees. The subcommittee will make recommendations on approaches to mitigate the impact of these charges. 


“I’ve already asked Sheriff Mahoney to meet and discuss the efforts to reduce the jail population due to Coronavirus, and how these reductions can be maintained after the pandemic with the Public Protection and Judiciary Committee” said McCarville.  This will take place on Tuesday June 9, 2020, at 5:15pm, the agenda is available here, with information for the public to register to speak and to listen to the remote meeting.


“The big ideas of change are here--embedded in each community meeting and action plan, every national expert's report, and the collaborative effort of community and system stakeholders.  The transformation of government systems is possible, however, in order to change we need to increase our partnerships—centered on racial equity--and double down on our commitment” said County Board Chair Analiese Eicher (District 3).