10-2021 (2)

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Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne is a Democrat, prosecutor, father, and lifelong Madison resident.  Ozanne has dedicated his career to public service, working to make our communities safer.


Ismael Ozanne is seeking re-election as our Dane County District Attorney.  He leads the second largest county, handling tens of thousands of cases per year.  Ismael and his office have prosecuted felony and misdemeanor cases including OWI, domestic violence, sexual assault, child abuse, child neglect, and homicide.

Ismael Ozanne was hired by then Dane County District Attorney Diane Nicks in 1998.  He moved from that role in 2008 to help lead the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, which oversees community corrections and Wisconsin’s prison system.  As Deputy Secretary, under then Secretary Rick Raemisch, he had oversight of the Department’s $1.2 billion budget, 10,000 employees, and managed daily operations with over 90,000 individuals in prison and community supervision statewide.  During his time at DOC, he worked to reduce racial disparities by emphasizing sound correctional practices proven to reduce recidivism.  In 2010, he was appointed by Governor Jim Doyle to lead the Dane County District Attorney’s office.

Ismael Ozanne is the first African American District Attorney in Wisconsin’s history.

District Attorney Ozanne has served on numerous boards including the Dane County Criminal Justice Council, the Association of State Prosecutors and the Dane County Bar Pro Bono Trust Fund Board, the Madison Community Foundation Board and the Red Caboose Day Care Center board.


In addition to ensuring individuals committing serious crimes in our community are held accountable, he also believes in being smart on crime.  He leads the deferred prosecution unit, sometimes referred to as the first offenders program, to allow low-risk, non-violent individuals to receive treatment instead of incarceration.  He created the “No Hit Zone” campaign in Dane County, which works to educate and help parents avoid corporal punishment for sound behavior-modifying techniques.  The Dane County Deferred Prosecution Child Physical Abuse Initiative aims to reduce the number of children who are abused by replacing current discipline with positive parenting practices.  Ismael Ozanne is also dedicated to the OWI Court, Drug Court, Veterans’ Court and other problem-solving courts in the county.


Ismael Ozanne has committed to a life of public service, a trait instilled in him by his parents and grandparents who had strong roots in labor and civil rights movements.  After graduating from the University of Wisconsin Law School in Madison, he began this journey.  Ismael Ozanne is a leader who understands that, in order to make our communities safer, we must improve the lives of the citizens of Dane County and across the state.  As a lifelong resident of Dane County, he wants to create a better world for his friends, his neighbors, and his family.  For that reason, he was one of the first to challenge Wisconsin Act 10, by defending the people’s right to access their government.  Wisconsin Act 10 was passed with less than two hours’ notice. He requested a Supreme Court Justice with ties to lawyers arguing the case step aside, an act the New York Times called “brave.”


His mother, Gwen Gillon is a noted civil rights activist.  In 1964, at the age of 17 she was the youngest member of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).  During the “Freedom Summer” of that year, she risked her life registering voters throughout Mississippi and searching for the three slain civil rights workers James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner. In 1966 she was awarded a scholarship at UW-Madison and in the summer of 1967 she and others returned to the South to collect civil rights memorabilia of which are now housed in the Wisconsin State Historical Society. Their struggle was captured in a book edited by Michael Edmonds called “Risking Everything”.

Courage and commitment to justice are values that were instilled into Ismael from a very young age.

He was born and raised in Madison, attending St. James and then West High School.  He earned both his bachelors and law degrees from the UW-Madison.  He served as Executive Assistant and Deputy Secretary in the State Department of Corrections during the Doyle administration.  In 2010, he was appointed Dane County District Attorney — the first African American ever in the State of Wisconsin to hold a District Attorney’s position and currently remains the only one throughout Wisconsin’s 72 Counties.

He and his wife Stacy live in Madison in a 1951 house built by his grandparents Bob and Fran Ozanne with the help of Herb Fritz, one of the original apprentices to study under Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin. Their two girls are the fourth generation of the Ozannes to live there. Bob Ozanne was a labor organizer and a historian who taught labor history and economics as well as headed the School for Workers at UW-Madison. He was also the author of three books: The Labor Movement in Wisconsin, A Century of Labor Management Relations and Wages in Theory and Practice.

Ismael being just three generations from slavery, his great grandfather Daniel Bolden was freed at the age of 13, understands the struggles his ancestors faced from voting rights to institutional racism and implicit bias. These and other lessons learned, are the reasons Ismael works every day to create a better future for the next generations to come.

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