Dane County joins White House effort to reform criminal justice system

October 13, 2016
Colleen Clark-Bernhardt, Equity and CJC Coordinator clark.colleen@countyofdane.com (608) 266-3022
County Board

Bolsters commitment  to data driven innovation in criminal justice


Today,  the Dane County Criminal Justice Council (CJC) is excited to announce participation in a White House lead effort to embed data and analytics into criminal justice system reform.


The Data-Driven Justice Initiative was launched by the Obama Administration in June to help cut jail populations, including time behind bars for those suffering from mental illness, substance abuse or chronic health issues. As a part of this national cohort, Dane County has committed to moving forward with data collaboration, developing tools to effectively de-escalate crisis, and using evidence based risk assessment tools in pre-trial.


“Too many people suffering from mental illness or drug addiction are ending up in our jails and prisons,” said Dane County Executive Parisi. “This work will help us ensure people are getting the help and resources they need.”


More than 120 jurisdictions nationwide and several in Wisconsin have since joined the White House effort. The Dane County Criminal Justice Council -- which includes key leaders representing all facets of criminal justice are  all committed to collaborate on criminal justice innovations.


“Data matters, as does collaboration  and capacity to implement change. ” said CJC member and Dane County Board chair Sharon Corrigan. “This initiative builds on the County Board’s efforts to achieve equity and innovation in the criminal justice system.”


In June 2016, we launched the Data-Driven Justice (DDJ) Initiative to support communities who want to use data to be smarter about diverting people with mental illness away from the criminal justice system and into community based treatment,” said DJ Patil, U.S. Chief Data Scientist. “We are excited that DDJ has grown to include over 120 diverse communities across the country, reaching more than 90 million individuals.”


Jurisdictions signing onto DDJ, have committed to their community three things:

· Combining data across system silos to identify individuals who are at high-risk and finding ways to provide effective, community-based services to help break the cycle of incarceration.

· Developing tools and trainings to help first responders effectively de-escalate crisis situations and safely divert people to the appropriate service providers instead of arresting them;

· Using evidence-based, objective, risk based assessment tools in pre-trial assessments. This will allow individuals who are considered low risk defendants to be safely released from jails; DDJ jurisdictions participate in regular calls where they share with each other best practices and discuss common challenges.


Dane County and other participating jurisdictions also gain access to the range of resources committed by technology companies, philanthropies and non-profit organizations toward improving the criminal justice system.


The Dane County Criminal Justice Council is made up of Joe Parisi (Chair), Ismael Ozanne (Vice-Chair), Sharon Corrigan, Dave Mahoney, Hon. Juan Colas, Carlo Esqueda, as well as key leaders in law enforcement, public defense, corrections, and policy.


The CJC  has already engaged in several initiatives designed to eliminate or reduce jail time for low-level offenders. These include pre-charge diversion through the Dane County Community Restorative Court (CRC) ; partnership with the Laura and John Arnold Foundation to implement a validated pre-trial risk assessment tool, in addition to outcome evaluation by researchers at Harvard University. 


For more information on DDJ, please review the following link provided by the White House.  https://www.justice.gov/opa/blog/growing-number-communities-are-using-data-improve-policing-and-criminal-justice