Study Committee on Reducing Recidivism and Removing Impediments to Ex-Offender Employment

Chaired by Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and Rep. Rob Hutton (R-Brookfield), the Study Committee on Reducing Recidivism and Removing Impediments to Ex-Offender Employment has convened multiple times over the last several months, with the most recent meeting held on Oct. 19. The committee focused on evidence-based strategies to decrease recidivism, examined earned-time credit systems, and impediments to assist with reacclimating to society, including medical assistance enrollment and workforce training.

Each committee meeting featured several presentations from public and private organizations. At the July 13 meeting, committee members received presentations from the Department of Corrections (DOC) and the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) on current state programs and resources. In the other meetings, the committee heard presentations from a variety of private organizations including representatives from the Milwaukee Area Technical College, Alma Center, Milwaukee Working and WISDOM.

At the Oct. 19 meeting, committee members considered several policy options to include in their legislative package. The policy options included:

  • Expansion of current Department of Correction Programs, Windows to Work and Opening Avenues to Reentry Success. Some committee members voiced concerns these programs lacked the long-term data to demonstrate success in reducing recidivism. However, committee members ultimately decided to include expansion of both programs in the policy package.
  • Engagement from the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Reinvestment Initiative. In 2008, Legislative Council’s Special Committee on Justice Reinvestment Initiative Oversight was established to work with the CSG Justice Center. Committee members decided to write letters to the governor, chief justice of the Supreme Court and legislative leadership requesting justice reinvestment technical assistance from CGS Justice Center.
  • Develop a trauma-informed services pilot program, with coordination from DOC, DHS and DCF. The committee also recommended studying how DOC can continue to provide trauma-informed care training.
  • Increase prescription medication supplies to inmates being released to four weeks and more assistance for inmates to find a health care provider prior to release. The committee decided to send a letter to DOC to make these requests.
  • Assist with inmates to get a state ID care prior to release. The committee also recommended the legislature and DOC examine the possibility of issuing a state ID care prior to release.

The next meeting is scheduled for Nov. 30. The committee plans to examine other policy proposals and vote on the final package. In addition, the committee members discussed reconvening representatives from DOC and DWD to discuss improved prerelease coordination between the two agencies.

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