The Wisconsin Community Corrections Story

January 22, 2019

A new report released today by the Justice Lab has found that Wisconsin has unusually high rates of community corrections supervision and reincarceration, adding considerably to the state’s prison populations and costing Wisconsin taxpayers millions annually.

The Wisconsin Community Corrections Story, which was commissioned by JustLeadershipUSA and authored by Jarred Williams, Vincent Schiraldi and Kendra Bradner, investigates the historical context of community corrections in Wisconsin, and looks particularly at racial disparities in the state’s community supervision and revocation rates, which are higher than national disparity rates. It concludes with recommendations to shrink the footprint of community corrections in the state, reduce unnecessary incarceration of people under supervision, and reduce inequities.

Read the full report: The Wisconsin Community Corrections Story

Read the Executive Summary


Leaders weigh in on The Wisconsin Community Corrections Story:

“Our report contains troubling findings that Wisconsin is wasting money and wasting lives by supervising and violating thousands of people not for new crimes, but for technical violations of supervision,” states Vincent Schiraldi, co-director of the Columbia University Justice Lab and former Commissioner of New York City Probation. “Wisconsin should now follow the example of dozens of states and focus community supervision resources on those most in need of it, stop returning people to prison for ‘ticky-tack’ rule violations, and use the savings from such reforms to fund programs and opportunities that help people turn their lives around.”

“The Columbia University Justice Lab report offers Wisconsin the hopeful opportunity to examine and reform the way we protect our communities in a more effective and just manner,” said John Chisholm, Milwaukee County District Attorney. “Community corrections should, whenever possible, reflect locally accountable ways to change harmful behaviors with the goal of returning people to full participation in the community.”

“The Columbia Justice Lab report makes it clear that a fundamental transformation of probation and parole is necessary not only in Wisconsin but across the country,” stated DeAnna Hoskins, President and CEO of JustLeadershipUSA, the organization that commissioned the report. “Too many people, but especially Black and Native communities in Wisconsin, have been disproportionately harmed. Their lived experience of neglect, economic exclusion, and even death is proof of the rampant civil and human rights abuses resulting from Wisconsin officials’ reliance upon overly punitive, ineffective practices. This must end. I am confident that impacted leaders in Wisconsin together with elected officials who recognize how the system has caused economic and racial inequities, and public health harms, will close MSDF (#CLOSEmsdf) and end crimeless revocation.”

“The Columbia Justice Lab has made a huge contribution with this report, clearly explaining both the scale of supervision and revocation in Wisconsin and the laws and practices that have enabled the results we see today,” said Cecelia Klingele, associate professor at University of Wisconsin Law School. “The report will inform policy conversations and community-based advocacy, allowing us to better understand what changes are needed to make our system more fair and more successful.”