Background

Criminal Justice is Expensive

Correction costs and populations are growing rapidly. The Wisconsin Taxpayer's Alliance noted that state corrections costs increased more than 270% between fiscal years 1991-92 and 2004-05. This reflected a near tripling of inmates at state prisons. County correction costs and populations have mirrored this trend. Compared with other states, Wisconsin's criminal justice spending is the highest among Midwestern states and the state ranks among the top third in the nation for criminal justice expenditures.

The Criminal Justice System is Evolving

The core elements of the "traditional" criminal justice system are detection, apprehension, charging, adjudication, incarceration and supervision of those charged with a crime. It is the minimum government is expected to provide. Law enforcement, the bar, courts, and corrections are the traditional participants. Public policy is developing beyond these elements and is including programs to prevent crime through family support, early intervention, programs and support for the incarcerated, and re-entry services.

Improve Communication Between Partners

This reframing lends itself to a host of specialized efforts that ought to involve collaboration within communities, and among state and local governments, agencies and educators. But instead, resources have primarily been directed towards incarceration while failing to address the underlying needs of the individuals and families engaged in the system.

UW-Extension responds

In 2009, in an effort to close this gap UW-Extension initiated a project with five goals, all of which require significant collaboration both within the UW System and with outside agencies.