Court programs

Effective justice strategies

National Institute of Corrections Evidence-Based Decision Making Initiative

In September 2017, the National Institutes of Corrections (NIC) announced that Wisconsin's state team and eight local evidence-based decision making (EBDM) counties (Chippewa, Eau Claire, La Crosse, Marathon, Milwaukee, Outagamie, Rock, and Waukesha) would receive "Phase VI" technical support to help refine and implement plans developed in earlier phases of NIC's Evidence-Based Decision Making Initiative. The purpose of the Initiative is to equip criminal justice policymakers in local communities with information, processes, and tools that result in measurable reductions of pretrial misconduct and post-conviction reoffending. The Initiative is grounded in two decades of research into the factors that contribute to recidivism and methods the justice system can employ to interrupt the cycle of criminal reoffending.

Wisconsin was one of four states invited to submit an application for Phase VI of the EBDM Initiative, but the only state chosen for full support. The goal of Phase VI is to expand collaboration and the scope of people involved in the Initiative, implement specific action plans, strengthen state and local partnerships, and proactively engage community stakeholders in advancing EBDM. The state EBDM team is a formal subcommittee of the State Criminal Justice Coordinating Council and the local EBDM teams are part of similar local councils. Acceptance into Phase VI was the result of Wisconsin's excellent work in earlier phases of the NIC EBDM Initiative.

2015 - Phase V

In February 2015, Wisconsin's state team and 6 counties (Chippewa, Marathon, Outagamie, La Crosse, Rock and Waukesha) were officially selected as one of three states (including Indiana and Virginia) to advance to Phase V of the EBDM Initiative. Work on Phase V began with a June 2015 workshop where members from the state and local teams gathered to understand the characteristics of highly effective collaborative teams, how to build methods for partnerships across the criminal justice system, how to develop a shared vision for an effective justice system, begin system mapping, and create action plans to carry their work forward. The state and local teams then had monthly meetings with NIC on-site technical assistance. By the end of 2015, teams developed change targets for their justice systems based on their system mapping, research-informed criteria, team member support, and local resources. In January 2016, teams developed implementation plans, which were then included as part of the Phase VI application.

2014 - Phase IV

Prior to inclusion in Phase V in 2015/16, Wisconsin was one of 5 states (along with Virginia, Indiana, Colorado and Oregon) included in Phase IV of the EBDM Initiative, which began in April 2014. Phase IV focused on gauging capacity and readiness to expand EBDM on the state and local level. Through Wisconsin’s State Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC), a planning team was assembled, chaired by the Director of State Courts, and staffed by the Office of Court Operations, which also included more than a dozen state and local leaders from a wide spectrum of criminal justice system agencies. This process included identifying a potential state EBDM policy team and the additional local jurisdictions that would eventually move on to further phases of the Initiative. The highly successful work in Phase IV led to Wisconsin’s inclusion in the Phase V initiative in 2015.

Origins of NIC EBDM Initiative

Wisconsin's acceptance into the later phases of the NIC EBDM Initiative was a result of the incredible work that started on this project in June 2008. At that time, NIC partnered with stakeholders across the country to build a system-wide framework (arrest through final disposition and discharge) that when implemented would result in more collaborative evidence-based decision making and practices in local criminal justice systems. In 2010, Wisconsin officially joined the NIC EBDM Initiative when both Eau Claire and Milwaukee counties were awarded inclusion in Phases II and III, which involved a planning and an implementation phase. The excellent work done by Milwaukee and Eau Claire counties built the foundation for Wisconsin's inclusion in later phases of the NIC project.

Additional information

Wisconsin EBDM efforts highlighted at Washington D.C. symposium
National Institute of Corrections (NIC) (external link)
NIC Evidence-Based Decision Making Initiative (external link)
NIC EBDM Framework and Starter Kit (external link)
Wisconsin State Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (external link)

For more information, contact Tommy Gubbin, special projects coordinator at (608) 261-0684.

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