Milwaukee County has been selected as one of three sites nationally to participate in Phase III of an Evidence-Based Decision Making in Local Criminal Justice Systems (EBDM) grant sponsored by the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Corrections, and Office of Justice Programs. Clinical Professor Ken Streit has been working on the project with actors in Milwaukee’s criminal justice system.
Over the last several years, the many participants in Milwaukee's criminal justice system have met regularly as a coordinating council, and have devoted considerable time in documenting the need for, and identifying programs that could best benefit from, evidence-based decision making to improve public safety and reduce costs.
The Phase III grant will allow Milwaukee to take major steps in applying a tool called Universal Screening to arrestees. Universal Screening is a computerized, evidence-based risk-needs assessment tool that is operated by a trained screener. It results in a score which is then used by prosecutors, defense attorneys, and court commissioners to determine bail or other release conditions.
The project’s second goal is to develop stronger capacity—in both quantity and quality--in diversion programs. The goal is to address the needs of individuals whose, based on their Universal Screening scores, do not necessarily need to stay in jail.
Finally, the project will allow Milwaukee to develop "dosage-based probation," as opposed to the typical duration-based probation terms. Certain offenders will be selected for probation that is measured by completion of identified "dosages" of intervention in order to achieve specific court-ordered goals. Once the offender achieves the goals, the court can terminate probation early. Prof. Streit proposed the goal-based probation idea and worked with judges, community corrections administrators, prosecutors, and defense counsel on this part of the grant proposal.