Community Justice Reinvestment Project

Community Advocates Milwaukee Wisconsin

In 2010, Community Advocates merged with Justice 2000, a non-profit organization established in 2001 to promote the safe release and community reintegration of criminal offenders.

With the merger, the Public Policy Institute incorporated Justice 2000’s Community Justice Reinvestment Project. Funded in part by the local Greater Milwaukee Foundation and the Open Society Foundations, this project aims to educate the public and other key stakeholders in Wisconsin about the value and importance of implementing comprehensive, evidence-based policy change within the statewide criminal justice system.

The Public Policy Institute is also engaging in community outreach and coalition building to create an ongoing forum for discussing criminal justice reform and related community issues.

In Wisconsin, spending on corrections has risen faster in the past 20 years than nearly any other state budget item. Between 1999 and 2009 the budget of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) rose by over 70 percent to $1.2 billion. Substantial increases in costs have been projected for the next 10 years. Despite mounting corrections spending, incarceration rates remain high.

Community-based alternatives to corrections—including diversion, deferred prosecution and alternatives to parole revocation—can potentially reduce prison costs and crime. State funding that would otherwise be allocated to Corrections should be “reinvested” in the community in order to implement such evidence-based alternatives to incarceration.

The Community Justice Reinvestment Project promotes a shift away from current policy that over-utilizes incarceration to one that focuses on early intervention, treatment programs and community supervision, particularly for those individuals at greatest risk for committing crimes.

This Project is modeled on successful initiatives in Minnesota and other states with lower numbers of prisoners but comparable crime rates to Wisconsin that have already developed community corrections legislation and policies to:

  • Strengthen the quality and efficiency of the criminal justice system;
  • Promote community-based programs that provide cost-effective, evidence-based alternatives to incarceration;
  • Empower collaborations between local criminal justice system partners and community organizations to plan, implement and evaluate a continuum of services to address local criminal justice and community needs;
  • Create strong incentives to reduce utilization of expensive prison beds, and develop and implement effective community-based programs; and
  • Produce cost savings from reductions in prison admissions, thus allowing counties to reinvest a portion of the savings in innovative, outcome-based programs and healthy neighborhood initiatives that will further reduce recidivism.

Read a detailed description of the project here.


PPI Hosts Edward F. Wall, The New Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections

On May 21, 2013 the Community Advocates Public Policy Institute hosted a dynamic event in their series of "Conversations with Policy Leaders", which featured guest Secretary Edward F. Wall and his senior staff. Secretary Wall and senior staffers addressed issues related to reducing recidivism by using evidence- based practices, as well as specific initiatives targeted to the Milwaukee area through informative presentations and a lively 'Q&A' afterward.The event took place at Community Advocates headquarters, from 4:00 P.M - 6:00 P.M.

PPI to Host "Reducing the Prison Population: What Works?" Event

On Thursday, August 16, 2012, the Community Advocates Public Policy Institute will host "Reducing the Prison Population? What works?" - a conversation with Nicole D. Porter, Director of Advocacy with The Sentencing Project in Washington, D.C. The event will be held at the Greater Milwaukee Foundation at 101 West Pleasant Street, Suite 210, Milwaukee, WI, from 2:00 to 3:30 p.m. More information on the event is available here.

Council Hears About Community Justice Project

At the invitation of the Milwaukee County Community Justice Coordinating Council, on Wednesday, May 23, 2012, at the Clinton Rose Senior Center, CA-PPI staff Debra Kraft, Marilyn Walczak and Alaina Fahley introduced the Community Justice Reinvestment Project to the Council and members of the community. Their presentation was entitled: “The Community Justice Reinvestment Project – A Legislative Proposal to Change Wisconsin’s Criminal Justice System.” To view the presentation, click here.

4th Street Forum Discusses Criminal Justice Issues

On April 5, 2012, Milwaukee's 4th Street Forum asked the question, "Wisconsin: Too Many Prisoners?" The panel discussed Wisconsin's prison population, alternatives to incarceration, and criminal justice reform. The discussion featured John Chisholm, JD, District Attorney, Milwaukee County; Jeanne Geraci, Executive Director, Benedict Center; Mandela Barnes, Program Director, 11x15 Campaign for Justice, MICAH; and Jeffrey Kremers, JD, Chief Circuit Court Judge, Milwaukee County. Watch the program here:


Walczak Discusses Criminal Justice on Fourth Street Forum 

On October 14, 2011, PPI's Community Justice Project Coordinator, Marilyn Walczak, was a guest on Milwaukee Public Television's 4th Street Forum. The episode was title, "Beyond the Bars: Modern Crime Fighting. In addition to Walczak, the discussion featured The Honorable Carl Ashley, Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge; Clarence Johnson, Director of the Holton Youth and Family Center's Violence Prevention Initiative; and Stan Stoykovich, Dean of the Helen Bader School of Social Welfare at UW-Milwaukee. Watch the program here: