The Third Branch
Assistance grant would boost EBDM efforts
By Tommy Gubbin, Office of Court Operations
On Aug. 26 the Wisconsin Evidence Based Decision Making (EBDM) Phase IV Planning Team selected six counties to include in the application to advance to Phase V of the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) EBDM Initiative.
The selected counties were: Chippewa, Marathon, Outagamie, La Crosse, Rock and Waukesha. If they are selected for Phase V, NIC will provide extensive technical assistance to these six counties and a state level team to expand EBDM in Wisconsin.
"Thanks to the efforts of each county that applied, as well as our comprehensive team approach, Wisconsin as a whole is well-positioned to benefit from this grant of technical assistance," said Chief Judge Jeffrey A. Kremers, Milwaukee County Circuit Court, who serves on the statewide Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC).
Selecting these counties was the culmination of work that began in March when the statewide CJCC sent a letter of interest to NIC indicating their interest in being considered for Phase IV of the EBDM Initiative. In April, Wisconsin was one of five states selected for Phase IV, along with Virginia, Indiana, Colorado and Oregon. This phase included a series of activities designed to help Wisconsin prepare itself to competitively apply for Phase V.
A planning team was assembled, chaired by the Director of State Courts and staffed by the Office of Court Operations. The team also included more than a dozen state and local leaders from a wide spectrum of criminal justice system agencies.
The six counties were selected following a series of meetings and outreach activities aimed at providing the planning team with information about county readiness and capacity to engage in EBDM.
A survey was issued to every county and tribe, and in addition to information from the survey, the planning team also looked at:
- evidence of county collaboration;
- engagement and commitment to EBDM, including attendance at the NIC EBDM Summit in January 2014 and other Evidence Based Practices (EBP) trainings;
- whether a county had existing specialty courts or diversion programs;
- impact on prison admissions and releases;
- geographic location;
- local resource capacity;
- whether a county had a qualified, full-time coordinator working for a well-rounded and functional CJCC;
- whether there was county commitment to using assessments; and
- whether there was a history of doing well and collaborating with grant-funded and other external partners.
The application process was a true collaboration, as the planning team drew on the resources and expertise of all of the state CJCC subcommittees - Outreach and Communication, Problem-Solving Courts, Evidence-Based Practices (EBP), and Data Sharing.
The Outreach and Communication subcommittee summarized EBP-related awareness building and explained how work from Phase V could be effectively shared with justice system partners and the public.
The Data Sharing subcommittee analyzed and summarized state data capacity. Finally, the Problem-Solving Courts and Evidence-Based Practices subcommittees had a series of joint meetings to review statewide policies and practices that could impact expanding EBDM in Wisconsin.
The Phase IV Planning Team also selected the Phase V State Level EBDM Policy Team. The membership of the current state CJCC Evidence Based Practices Subcommittee was expanded to serve as the State Team. These additions include a judge; legislative leaders from both parties; the Department of Corrections Reentry Director; representation from pre-trial services, victim advocacy, behavioral health, and offender advocacy groups; a local CJCC coordinator; and local law enforcement. Stakeholders from Eau Claire, Milwaukee, and the six Phase V counties were also included. On Sept. 30 the state CJCC unanimously approved a motion to accept and support the recommended state and local teams.
To assist with the application process in November, NIC sponsored EBDM Capacity Building Training. Each of the Phase IV states sent a team of six to nine members of the justice system to receive intensive training in providing technical assistance to counties implementing EBDM.
In addition to judges and Court Operations staff, Wisconsin's Capacity Building Team also included staff from the Department of Justice and Department of Corrections, a district attorney and a public defender representative, local CJCC coordinators, and local law enforcement. Together with the Phase V teams formed at the state and local levels, the work of the Capacity Building Team will supplement and enhance the advancement of EBDM across Wisconsin, and would make Wisconsin a national model of how to improve criminal justice systems.
NIC is expected to announce the two selected states before the end of the year.