August 24, 2021
Colleen Clark-Bernhardt
County Board

The Dane County Criminal Justice Council (CJC) will be meeting virtually on Thursday, August 26 at 12:15pm. At the meeting, the CJC will hear a presentation from Center for Court Innovation (CCI) on their results and recommendations around a potential community justice center. The CJC endorsed a RFP to complete a needs assessment for a community justice initiative and the Center for Court Innovation was the selected vendor for the assessment.


CCI creates operating programs to test new ideas and solve problems, performs original research to determine what works (and what doesn’t), and provides expert assistance to justice reformers around the world.


Medina Henry, Director of Community Justice Initiatives for CCI said, "Over the past nine weeks, our team at the Center for Court Innovation has conducted needs assessment activities engaging a range of community and government voices to explore the development of a Dane County Community Justice Center. A core value of our work is collaboration. We’re thankful for the time and generosity of each stakeholder in sharing insights and expertise on the needs and opportunities in Dane County, and for the opportunity to support a collaborative path in the effort towards greater equity and efficacy in your criminal justice system."


Over the past few months CCI has worked with Dane County to conduct interviews, engage community members, and evaluate data to develop recommendations for the needs assessment.


"I’m eager to hear from CCI, and to take the next steps on the community justice center," said District Attorney Ismael Ozanne. "If we want to transform our criminal justice system, we need to think innovatively and push forward on ideas like the community justice center."


Dane County approved $100,000 for the needs assessment in the 2020 budget.


A community justice center incorporates procedural fairness, restorative justice, and community centered transformative initiatives. Community justice centers include social services available for community members, regardless of their involvement with the criminal justice system.


"We have intentionally reached out to communities most impacted by criminal justice to listen, learn, and address challenges in a collaborative way.  To hear community member’s vision for racial equity in criminal justice inspires the CJC to continue to work collaboratively across agencies, municipalities and communities.  In order to be successful we need to continue to center the community's voice." said County Board Chair Analiese Eicher who is also Chair of the Criminal Justice Council.


In anticipation of the needs assessment, and in an effort to glean the voice of the community, the CJC has held town halls, contracted with community organizations to foster conversations, and supported the work of CCI.


Prior to the needs assessment, the CJC has reviewed previous work of county and community work groups, accurate shared data, and current community voices to help craft the community justice center initiative


Members of the public that would like to attend or register to speak at Thursday’s meeting can find the information to connect on the agenda.