- Our analysis of GPS as an alternative to having offenders spend the night at the Community Corrections Center emphasizes the need to establish clear objectives for the program (e.g. save on incarceration costs or enhance public safety?). We suggest that while GPS may have significant potential as part of Milwaukee's "alternatives to incarceration" toolbox, its use as a mechanism to shut down the county's work release center may be problematic.
- Our analysis of the existing population housed at the work release center shows a significant percentage are convicted drunk drivers, raising the question of whether there may be safer, more effective and less costly ways to punish and reform these offenders.
- Our research on universal screening/risk assessment of those entering the criminal justice system indicates this is a widely used best practice. We suggest that any serious effort to safely reduce pre-trial incarceration days, increase diversions and otherwise develop a coordinated approach for effectively and safely managing the county's corrections population must include comprehensive screening. Our recommendation to immediately consider a 2009 budget initiative to implement this strategy was endorsed by the full Council earlier this week.
At a time when both municipal and county budgets are under siege and are being driven in part by skyrocketing law enforcement and incarceration costs, effective coordination of justice system issues is key. The Community Justice Council is just the right mechanism for promoting such coordination, and now is just the right time to turn words into action.