The Third Branch
Jane Klekamp, La Crosse County Chemical Health and Justice Sanctions manager (left), accepted the Outstanding Criminal Justice Program Award at a Midwest regional conference in Chicago in August. The award recognizes La Crosse's successful effort to incorporate evidence-based practices into its criminal justice system.
The National Criminal Justice Association honored the La Crosse County Chemical Health and Justice Sanctions (CHJS) Program with its Outstanding Criminal Justice Program Award for the Midwest Region in August. The award recognizes the program's success in decreasing recidivism and jail population.
The program is part of a multi-faceted effort launched in 1993 in La Crosse County to improve community safety and address recidivism. The initiative has included creation of a Criminal Justice Management Council (CJMC), a drug court, an OWI treatment court, a bail monitoring program, closure of the Huber Center and more.
Judge Dennis G. Montabon, who is now a reserve judge, helped to lead the effort and continues to co-chair the CJMC. He said recidivism is down by one-third or more in La Crosse County.
"We were spending way too much money on locking people up," he said. "So this is all about identifying better ways to address crime. You just try something, and if it doesn't work, you try the next thing. Judges have lots of power to initiate justice programs, and they ought to use it. As long as the judges work well together, and the county board is supportive, you can build some very effective strategies on a shoestring budget."
The CHJS program – soon to be re-named the Justice Support Services program – serves criminal justice clients and provides cost-effective services to reduce the jail population and recidivism. Services include cognitive-behavioral treatment, random drug and alcohol testing, electronic monitoring, employment services and gender-specific programming.
"Started in 1995, La Crosse County's Chemical Health and Justice Sanctions program was initiated on the belief of the County Board that criminal justice services could be conducted with better results by focusing on evidence-based practices for criminal justice clients," said Matt Raymer, criminal justice program analyst for the Wisconsin Department of Justice. "With the principle goals of reducing recidivism and reducing the jail population without decreasing public safety, this program has been a model for other counties in Wisconsin as they work to incorporate evidence-based programs and practices into their local criminal justice systems."
CHJS has proved itself cost-effective. The cost per day for someone in the CHJS program is less than $23 per day, while the cost to incarcerate someone in the La Crosse County Jail is $100 per day. The program has also reduced the average daily jail population by 35 percent since 2001.
The NCJA Outstanding Criminal Justice Program Awards help to gather and share information on successful criminal justice programs. The purpose of these awards is to highlight programs that:
- Address an important criminal justice issue;
- Demonstrate effectiveness based on program goals;
- Are a good example of used of federal funds to initiate the program that is subsequently supported through state and local funds or is self-sustaining; and
- Can be easily replicated in other jurisdictions.
- All of the award winners can be found at www.ncja.org/outstanding-criminal-justice-program-awards/
For more information about La Crosse County Chemical Health and Justice Sanctions, contact Jane Klekamp at (608) 785-5547 or (608) 386-0833.
Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson
Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson is being honored by her alma mater, Indiana University, with the school's Distinguished Alumni Service Award. The award is the university's highest accolade given to an alumnus. The winners are leaders in their chosen fields whose work has significantly benefited their community, state, nation or university.
Abrahamson earned her law degree from Indiana University Law School in 1956, graduating first in her class. She now holds 15 honorary doctor of laws degrees, including one from Indiana University, and also won the Distinguished Alumni Award from the UW, where she earned an S.J.D. in 1962.
She will accept the Indiana University award in November in Bloomington, Ind.