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Wisconsin Court System receives grant on Effective Justice Strategies

Madison, Wisconsin - December 18, 2007

The Wisconsin Court System has been awarded a $573,000 grant over the next two and a half years to help research and develop the most promising strategies for improving the effectiveness of the state's criminal justice system.

The grant, awarded by the JEHT Foundation, will help fund the project Enhancing Public Safety: Effective Justice Strategies. The project's goal is to build on local, evidence-based practices that deliver effective outcomes for communities, victims and defendants.

"This grant will help all stakeholders in the criminal justice system work effectively together toward solutions that enhance public safety and, where appropriate, reduce excessive reliance on incarceration," said Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson.

The project will build on work started at the local level, including formation of Criminal Justice Coordinating Councils (CJCC) and problem-solving courts. These efforts have helped address underlying issues, such as drug addiction, alcohol abuse, domestic violence and mental health problems.

Many of these underlying issues come to light in the courtroom, and the public relies on the judiciary to play a leadership role, along with its justice system partners, in safely and effectively addressing these challenges. Effective solutions depend on collaboration and cooperation among county boards, law enforcement, district attorneys, public defenders, the bar, advocacy and treatment groups, the Department of Corrections and community leaders. This grant will help encourage collaboration by providing training, research, planning and support to partners in the criminal justice system.

Widespread interest in effective justice strategies has been driven by growing fiscal concerns, incarceration rates, recidivism rates and other factors that reflect a need to employ new practices.

During the last 15 years, the state has experienced unprecedented growth in prison, jail and community corrections populations. The prison population has doubled over the past decade, from 11,000 prisoners to more than 23,000 prisoners and has tripled since 1990. The growth has had a significant impact on the costs, workload volume and overall operations of the criminal justice system across the state.

Objectives of the effective justice strategies effort include: enhancing public safety and reducing recidivism; providing courts with better information to deliver the most effective sentences; identifying and fostering support for local, court-centered programs; and recommending a comprehensive state-level strategy to promote and implement effective criminal justice strategies and evidence-based practices.

The New York City-based JEHT Foundation was established in 2000. The name stands for the core values that underlie the Foundation's mission: Justice, Equality, Human dignity and Tolerance. For more information, visit: http://www.jehtfoundation.org

Contact: Tom Sheehan
Court Information Officer
(608) 261-6640

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