Dane County District Attorney’s Office public service message addressing the adverse impact of corporal punishment of children and the adverse impact associated with its use, including future violence.

Ismael Ozanne is a We Are Many United Against Hate Policy Committee Board Member which is a Madison-based, non-partisan, non-profit, state-wide organization made up of common people who seek equal protection for all and are united against hate, bigotry and racism

The city of Stoughton is training their staff to help end corporal punishment. The area is the first city in Dane County to become a “No Hit Zone.” The policy passed city council in 2016, however city staff just started training on the policy last week. 2017-12-06

Click to view Lee Hawkins of the Wall Street Journal interviews Stacey Patton, the author of “Spare the Kids-why whupping children won’t save Black America” that includes a chapter on “The Parent to Prison Pipeline” and how Wisconsin’s First Black District Attorney (Ismael Ozanne) connected hitting children to criminal justice outcomes 2017-03-21

CLICK TO VIEW Dr. Stacey Patton’s link to her website, “Spare the Children, Because Disciplining Doesn’t Have to Hurt”

CLICK TO VIEW Dr. Barbara Knox and Dane County DA Ismael Ozanne discuss the American Family Children’s Hospital’s “no hit zone” policy. No hitting or spanking of any kind is allowed by adults or children under a new initiative. This was first published October 11, 2016 by Channel 3000 | News 3

CLICK TO VIEW The American Family Children’s Hospital announced Tuesday that it joined the Dane County’s No Hit Zone initiative. wmtv15 Published on Oct 12, 2016 


Dane County can be model for criminal justice reform Neil Heinen Video Posted: Jan 31, 2017

Our second editorial agenda item for 2017 is nothing less than our belief Dane County can be a model for criminal justice reform in the nation.

We base that belief on the work being done by an extraordinary group of citizens, faith leaders, and advocates for ex-offenders, housing and career specialists and more.

But we also believe Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne is fast becoming a national leader in intervention and prevention efforts that are more just and effective, and that will strengthen relationships with law enforcement while reducing racial disparities.

Examples include child abuse intervention and diversion policies, the community restorative court, a renewed, laser-like emphasis on birth-to-three funding and a proposed corrections re-entry court.

We will support this work throughout the year at all levels of government. Nothing would make us prouder than to have Dane County recognized as a criminal justice model for intervention and prevention.

Assistant District Attorney Matt Moeser, a veteran prosecutor, says he left the office in late 2014 because of low pay and returned a few months later when Ozanne found a way to increase his salary. He calls Ozanne a good boss, saying most people in the office like him and feel supported.  Isthmus 7-28-2016

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Spheres of influence: 2015 most influential people in Greater Madison


Ismael Ozanne: Nonviolent Disciple

When he made his ruling that Officer Matt Kenny would not face criminal charges in the March 6 shooting death of Tony Robinson, Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne was wise to note his mother’s involvement in the Civil Rights movement.

Knowing that similar findings had caused violent unrest and additional loss of life in Ferguson, Mo., and other cities, Ozanne’s statement helped remind people that civil rights leaders achieved historic change through nonviolent protest.

It was extremely important that Ozanne not only spell out the facts in great detail, but also that he express sorrow for the loss of life and acknowledge weaknesses in the justice system, which he did. In handling a tense situation in a “teachable moment” manner, Ozanne, who is Wisconsin’s first black district attorney, also reminded the community that peaceful protest is not only a Constitutional right, it’s also the smartest and most effective way to affect change.

It wasn’t a comfortable situation to be thrust in the national spotlight, but thanks to the way Ozanne handled a difficult situation, Madison is in a much better position to address the racial disparities that tear at its social fabric.

parisiCounty Receives National Grant to Reduce Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System

American Bar Association Selects Dane County as One of Four National Sites

May 23, 2013

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne announced today that the county has been selected to receive a $24,000 grant from the American Bar Association (ABA) to aid Dane County in its work to reduce racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

“It is critical that we take a detailed look at the initiatives in which we have engaged to reduce racial disparities,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi.  “This grant will help us move forward with the best practices to reduce disparities.”

The ABA grant extends for a two-year period beginning in June 2013.  The ABA will assist the Dane County Criminal Justice Council on lowering racial disparities in the criminal justice system using technical advice, data analysis and facilitation.

In 2010, the American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section launched the Racial Justice Improvement Project (RJIP), with support from the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). The RJIP is a two-year federally funded initiative designed to identify and reform policies and practices that produce racial disparities in local criminal justice systems across the country.  The grant award has been extended to include Dane County as one of four new sites chosen nation-wide.

“This is a great opportunity for Dane County and the criminal justice community to impact racial disparities here at home as we learn from other communities with similar issues,” said Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne.  “To be chosen for this grant is certainly tied to the magnitude of the problem we face here in Dane County.  The support from the American Bar Association can only help us move forward with the task at hand.”

Dane County’s Office of Equal Opportunity wrote and was awarded the grant on behalf of the Dane County Criminal Justice Council (CJC).  The CJC is Chaired by County Executive Parisi, and includes the Dane County Sheriff, Dane County District Attorney, Chief Judge, the county’s Clerk of Courts, Dane County Board Chair, and the Chiefs of the City of Madison and City of Sun Prairie Police Departments, Public Defender and Chair of Public Protection and Judiciary committee.

Wisconsin overall, and specifically Dane County, has consistently ranked as one of the highest places for criminal justice racial disparities in the country.

The CJC has utilized the Dane County Task Force on Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System Report 2009, the Dane County Implementation   Team’s work, as well as fact gathering and program analysis from CJC members, to maintain a continued effort at reduction of disparities.

Dane County prides itself on being a welcoming place for all.  Reform efforts at reducing current racial disparities will help engage all members of our community.

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No Hit Zone

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne is proud to announce that the District Attorney’s Office, including its public lobbies, is now a No Hit Zone. The No Hit Zone initiative stems from the District Attorney’s Office commitment to reducing the use of corporal punishment to discipline children because of the proven negative outcomes associated with such punishments. Today, we know, corporal punishment of children puts children at risk of developing increased aggression, antisocial behavior, and mental health problems as well as physical injury. Ending the use of corporal punishment will reduce the risk that any given child will suffer child abuse, or engage in criminal conduct as an adult or juvenile.

No Hit Zones represent an explicit and public call to all people in those environments to refrain from the use of violence. The purpose of the Dane County District Attorney’s Office No Hit Zone is to create and reinforce an environment of safety and comfort for all people who come into the District Attorney’s Office and its public spaces. The District Attorney’s Office invites other agencies, businesses, schools and families to decide that they, too, want to live, work and learn in No Hit Zones.

With this commitment in mind, the Dane County District Attorney’s Office joins children’s hospitals across the country, such as the University of Louisville-Kosair Children’s Hospital, University of Michigan – C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, Children’s Mercy Hospitals in Kansas, and Gundersen Health System in La Crosse, WI, in establishing a safe and violence free zone, especially for children, with the introduction of the No Hit Zone.

Ismael Ozanne: Why I care about corporal punishment

Wisconsin State Journal Op Ed Oct 15, 2016

Over 100 years of research on children and families provides clear evidence of the dangers of corporal punishment. Today, 50 countries ban corporal punishment of children in all settings, including homes. From the United Nations to the American Academy of Pediatrics, professionals have recognized that positive parenting alternatives can have long-term benefits for our children, families, schools and communities. That’s why I am so pleased to join UW Health’s American Family Children’s Hospital and Dr. Barbara Knox’s Child Protection Team for their “Hitting Hurts” campaign.

As Dane County district attorney, I care about reducing corporal punishment of children because we now know the seeds of violence can be planted in the first five years of a child’s life. Research tells us these first five years are the most formative for brain development.

Well-meaning parents have hit their children, believing it was best for the child’s well-being. But we now know hitting a child puts that boy or girl at risk for detrimental outcomes affecting every aspect of our community, including the criminal justice system.

When parents use corporal punishment, children are at risk of injury. In fact, our office last year received referrals for charging on 138 child physical abuse cases. And child maltreatment is a major cause of homicides to children. Children who are hit are at risk for mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression. Their IQ scores can be lower, and they can have more difficulty concentrating in school. Children who are hit can be more aggressive than other children and engage in bullying behaviors. They may learn violence is an acceptable way to resolve conflict.

We now know corporal punishment puts children at risk for future alcohol and drug problems. They are at risk of becoming the perpetrators and victims of domestic violence. Our office last year received referrals for charging on over 2,700 domestic violence cases. Domestic violence is one of the major causes of homicide.

We now know hitting children as a form of discipline puts them at risk for feeding the pipeline into the criminal justice system.

My office has made it a priority to address corporal punishment. Since 2013, we have set up a program for parents who injured their children using corporal punishment.

In 2014 and 2015, we collaborated with UW Children’s Hospital and other community partners, offering a conference on the cultural context of corporal punishment. We also produced a public service announcement on the benefits of violence-free homes.

In 2014, our office became the first governmental office in the nation to start a “No Hit Zone” program — joining children’s hospitals across the country. I am so proud of our staff’s commitment.

The right to use corporal punishment has long been an acceptable part of parenting in the United States, and legislatures still allow it. But it negatively affects our children.

Our world is a scary and far too often violent place. Our children deserve to learn how to peacefully resolve conflict from those they love the most.

I applaud UW American Family Children’s Hospital for publicly addressing this issue. Those providing health care for our children and who join in this campaign have the potential of touching the lives of every child in Dane County.

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cap times

DA Ismael Ozanne: We must end bias, cycle of abusive parenting

CAPITAL TIMES Mar 12, 2014  by ISMAEL OZANNE | Dane County district attorney

I am responding to the Rev. Alex Gee’s recent comments about racial disparities. I do so as a lifelong resident of Dane County, a graduate of Madison West and the University of Wisconsin, a father and husband, the district attorney, and a black man. Rev. Gee’s honest comments about his frustration with Dane County’s racial disparities are justified. I say this from my own life and work experiences as a prosecutor and an executive at the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. The recent study of Dane County’s racial disparities confirms we must do considerable work to meet our shared responsibility to ensure fairness and equal opportunities for all members of our community, regardless of the color of their skin.

The complex problems of racial disparities and racial intolerance have roots deep within our country’s history. But our shared American heritage is not just a list of grievances and injustices; it is also a heroic story of struggle by Americans of all races, creeds and colors to overcome hatred and bigotry and truly let freedom ring for all who call this nation home. This struggle has been long and hard. It also is not yet over.

Our fellow citizens of color have suffered from racial bias in the criminal justice system. This has produced toxic results of continuous fear and mistrust that lowers the effectiveness of that system to meaningfully protect victims of crime and rehabilitate offenders where possible. Racial bias deters victims and witnesses of color from coming forward and fully cooperating with a system that they see as unfair to their own kind, and it provides offenders with a psychological “out” to blame the system for their wrongdoing, instead of accepting that it is they who trespass against their neighbor and must atone for their behavior.

While we must work to end bias in the system, that is not enough. From 1998, when I first became an assistant district attorney here, through my time at the Department of Corrections, and since 2010, when I became your district attorney, I have seen the criminal justice system from front to back. What has struck me most is how so many offenders lived a childhood defined by being abused and maltreated. It is time for us to acknowledge that violence in our homes negatively impacts the development of our children and makes them more likely to display aggression and anti-social behaviors. We must educate parents about early brain development and promote positive nonviolent parenting practices that teach our children self-confidence and healthy conflict resolution skills. By doing this, we will ensure that when these children start school, they will be ready to learn and grow in the classroom, and not atrophy in a principal’s office, the back of a squad car, or the inside of a juvenile prison.

Let me be clear that I believe the justice system must protect us from dangerous offenders. I am partnering with the Madison Police Department and other federal, state and local agencies to support Madison’s proactive focused deterrence model of law enforcement, the Special Investigations Unit, which focuses law enforcement and community resources on rehabilitating dangerous offenders or, when necessary, vigorously prosecuting those offenders to the full extent of the law.

At the same time, I have worked with the Dane County Criminal Justice Council to expand diversion programs, especially for young people. These programs are designed to hold low-level offenders accountable for their behavior and give them a chance to earn back the privilege to enter adult life without a criminal conviction. By inculcating personal responsibility in these young people, I believe we can better protect society and enable these young men and women to lead lives that will make them feel pride in themselves for becoming contributing members of society.

I am particularly proud of a new diversion program designed by my office and implemented last fall. This program seeks to swiftly move parents and caregivers who have engaged in violent parenting practices into a program where they will be taught responsible nonviolent parenting skills, monitored by in-home visits by support workers, and have the chance to avoid a felony conviction if they accept responsibility and commit to changing their ways. A component of this project is community outreach and education, which involves partnering with the American Family Children’s Hospital. This project will have a multi-generational impact by reducing the risk that children will be victims of abuse or grow into abusers themselves.

Rev. Gee has reminded us that we have been complacent in our shared journey toward equality for all. I resolve to not be complacent. I resolve to remember what my own life has taught me and to build a better tomorrow for all. Together we will do great things.

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Veterans’ Treatment Court

Dane County Circuit Judges have authorized the creation of a Veterans’ Treatment Court here in Dane County.   The Veterans Administration, the Dane County Sheriff David Mahoney, the District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, and the Public Defender have agreed to support this initiative.  Most important, a group volunteer veterans from the community have agreed to act as mentors to individuals who participate in the court process

What is it?   A Veterans treatment courts promotes sobriety, recovery, and stability through a coordinated effort to provide treatment for addiction and mental health issues and to maintain regular contact with the court.  The Veterans Court utilizes volunteer veteran mentors to encourage, guide, and support the veteran through the Court process.

Who is eligible?   The Veteran who can benefit from the Veterans Treatment Court Program is a person who has a criminal charge pending and for whom there is an underlying treatment need that is significantly contributing to the criminal issues.  Eligibility typically requires:

• Service in the U.S. Armed Forces, including Reserves and Guard

• Eligible for Veterans Service Benefits

• Have a demonstrated treatment need

What happens? The District Attorney and defense lawyer agree to allow the case into Veterans Court and the Vet signs a contract for participation.  There must be a treatment need (such as mental health or AODA).   To determine the treatment needs, the Vet must undergoan assessment by the VA.  The Vet will appear before the Vets Court judge on a regular basis. The Vet must follow through on treatment, including random drug testing.

Volunteer Mentor.  Volunteer Mentors, themselves veterans, are the key part of the Vets Court.  Each Veteran is assigned a Vet Mentor who maintains contact with the Vet to encourage, advise and assist the Vet.   Communication from the Vet to Mentor is, by law, confidential and the Mentor cannot disclose anything except in an emergency involving threat of harm or a criminal act, Sec. 905.16, Wis. Stats.

What Result?  Upon successful completion of the treatment plan (typically 12-18 months), the original charges against the defendant are dismissed or reduced.

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Drug Court

Many defendants have substance abuse problems. As a result, the courts have offered a program to provide treatment and intervention. Such intervention is best achieved when offenders initially enter the criminal justice system. Drug Court offers educational and employment linkages so defendants will possess the ability to become productive members of the community. Participants are not convicted or sentenced in Drug Court and there are no trials. Eligible participants are deferred from criminal prosecution. Drug Court proceedings are currently presided over by Judge Sarah O’Brien, Branch 16.

Drug Court focuses on non-violent offenders. Cases are referred by an Assistant District Attorney (ADA). Defendants voluntarily agree to participate and receive drug treatment services instead of a sentence. The ADA specifies the length of time in the program. Defendants appear regularly before the judge as a group, who reviews each case with treatment providers and ADA, and discusses the offender’s progress directly with the offender in front of the group. The judge may order the treatment to be modified, or may order sanctions for violating treatment requirements (i.e., several days in jail). If an offender successfully completes treatment by staying off drugs, the ADA will move to reduce or dismiss the charges as promised in the contract.


  • Dane County resident.
  • Must be 18 years old.
  • No convictions for violent felony offenses.
  • No pending violent misdemeanor offenses.
  • No weapon used during drug crime charged.
  • Must have identifiable treatment needs, and willingness to address substance use, abuse, or dependence.
  • Must be willing to comply with program expectations.

Program Requirements

  • A plea of guilty or no contest in exchange for potential reduction or dismissal of charges after successful completion of the program.
  • Individualized assessment and alcohol and other substance abuse programming in the Treatment Track; minimum of nine months.
  • A commitment to remain alcohol and drug free while in the program.
  • Compliance with all program recommendations and requirements.
  • Submission to drug testing.
  • Sanctions for program violations, including jail.
  • Must comply with bail conditions.
  • Must pay program fee in full.

Goals & Benefits

  • To break the cycle of drugs and crime.
  • To reduce jail incarceration for defendants who present a low risk to public safety.
  • To provide a fully integrated and comprehensive treatment program.
  • To enhance personal, academic, and employment abilities for defendants.

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Since 2003, Dane County has addressed racial disparities in the criminal justice system utilizing county funding and State Office of Justice Assistance grants, guided by recommendations from the Dane County Task Force on Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System  (2009) and the Dane County Juvenile Justice Disproportionate Minority Contact Solutions Workgroup (2009), as well as other information and approaches to improve the disparities in our community.

The Dane County Board of Supervisors included a pilot Community Restorative Court in the 2014 budget that is designed to use national best practices to utilize county and community strengths to resolve misdemeanors before formal charging.  The Dane County Racial Disparities work group has gathered data and researched the approach since the spring of 2013.

The Dane County Community Restorative Court (CRC) will enlist restorative justice principles and practices.  Restorative justice is a community-based form of justice that seeks to repair the harm caused by crime.

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Is there judicial involvement?

No. There is no municipal or criminal judge assigned to the community restorative court.  The community, partnering with the anchor stakeholders and CRC coordinator will help move approved misdemeanor level offenses out of the formal court system and into a harm reparation process for the impacted community.

What are restorative justice (RJ) practices?

Restorative justice practices see crime as more than breaking the law—it looks to the harm done to the people, relationships and community. Restorative justice practices require the cooperation and collaboration of the community and the government.  Restorative justice focuses on healing the injury caused by harm, balancing effective services for victims and when appropriate, the offender.

What are some examples of other restorative justice programs?

Restorative justice programs exist all over the United States and across the world.  Canada, New Zealand, Austria, Japan and several other European nations practice forms of restorative justice.  Dane County’s Community Restorative Court takes after successful examples in Red Hook, San Francisco’s Community Justice Center, and Baltimore’s Community Conferencing Center.

How effective is restorative justice?

Research on restorative justice has found that: a) victims who meet with their offenders are far more likely to be satisfied with the justice system’s response to their case than those who go through the normal justice process; b) after meeting the offender, victims are significantly less fearful of being re-victimized; c) offenders who meet with their victim are far more likely to complete their restitution obligation to the victim; and d) considerably fewer and less serious future crimes are committed by offenders who meet their victim.

What does the Dane County CRC hope to achieve?

The Dane County CRC has 5 goals:

  1. Efficient case resolution.  Participants can have a case resolved more quickly than in the criminal courts.
  2. Community-driven solutions.  The community that is affected by the crime gets to direct the plan for repairing the harm.
  3. Reduce burden on criminal courts.  The Dane Count CRC has the potential to significantly save both time and money for criminal courts and the agencies that work in them.
  4. Reduce recidivism.  By keeping low-level offenders out of the traditional system—and keeping convictions off their record (and off CCAP), the community court removes an obstacle to meaningful participation in the community.  As individuals gain a true understanding of the impacts of their actions, they may be less likely to reoffend.
  5. Reduce racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

What sorts of crimes will the Dane County Community Restorative Court handle?

The Dane County CRC will handle non-domestic violence related misdemeanor level offenses.

Why 17-25 year olds?

Studies in neuroscience have shown that a young person’s cognitive development continues into this later stage and that their emotional maturity, self-image and judgment will be affected until the prefrontal cortex of the brain has full developed (guidelines currently state age 25).  Many members of the community have anecdotally or personally witnessed brain development after the age of maturity.

Why the South Side of Madison?

South Madison was chosen because it is a community of strength—with strong community anchor organizations, strong resident involvement, and police commitment to restorative justice principles.  An additional reason for choosing this location as the first site is the misdemeanor frequency in the 17-25 year old age group.  Community collaboration is a critical piece of the initial set-up and will follow equity and social justice for community engagement best practices.

How are individuals selected for the Community Restorative Court?

The Community Restorative Court will accept referrals from different stakeholders within the justice system, including the district attorney, members of the community, and law enforcement personnel.

What about “victimless crimes?”

Even for perceived “victimless crimes,” such as drug offenses, there is a significant harm done to the community.  In cases like these, members of the community sit in as victims in a conferencing circle to speak about how the crime has affected their community.

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Deferred Prosecution Unit

The Deferred Prosecution Unit (DPU), sometimes referred to as the First Offenders Program, is run by the Dane County District Attorney’s Office, and differs in its operation from the way some prosecution agencies use deferred prosecution agreements.

Eligible defendants can avoid adjudication (a criminal conviction) and sentencing by satisfying the requirements of a deferred prosecution agreement contract with the D.A.’s Office. The contract may require the defendant to participate in one or more of the following assessments or programs: alcohol and drug assessment and comply with any recommended treatment; abuser / generalized aggression treatment; attend issue specific, DPU, or parenting classes; pay restitution; complete community service work; and secure psychological / psychiatric, vocational and or any other counseling DPU deems necessary. Participants also agree to take other appropriate measures to assure they do not repeat criminal behavior. In domestic abuse and other cases involving threats or acts of violence, participants are not allowed to possess firearms or other weapons while in the program. All participants must comply with any existing bail conditions at all times throughout the duration of their contract without exception.

In return for successful completion of the deferred prosecution contract, the DA’s Office agrees to dismiss or amend the charges. If the defendant fails to meet the terms of the contract, the contract will be terminated and the case returned to court for the entry of adjudication and the imposition of sentence or prosecution if charges have not yet occurred. At this point there is no trial; the case goes straight to sentencing.

If the defendant successfully completes the DPU program, the case returns to court for dismissal. Record of the charge will remain in the Wisconsin Circuit Court Access automated program (CCAP), but the dismissal will be noted and there will be no formal adjudication or conviction.

Benefits to Victims, Taxpayers, and Others

Victims who suffer personal property and monetary loss are compensated by the offender through restitution or community service, and both victims and the public have the benefit of the offender’s acknowledgment of guilt in a court of law.

Courts, attorneys, and police benefit from the reduction in resources and time spent in court for pretrial conferences, hearings, and trials.

Taxpayers and the public generally benefit by lessened stress upon law enforcement, prosecutors, public defenders, courts and correctional agencies. In addition, a successful outcome lessens the chance of repeat criminal conduct.

Defendants benefit from the opportunity to avoid acquiring a criminal conviction that may affect employment, housing, personal freedom, reputation / self-esteem, relationships, as well as the right to vote and future firearm privileges.

Where programs of this nature do not exist, defendants receive little or no supervision and they have less access to resources and services following arrest. National studies reveal the cost of handling cases through pretrial intervention programs is less than half the cost of handling similar cases in the traditional manner of prosecution.

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Deferred Prosecution Opiate Initiative

DPU Opiate Defender Mission Statement:

It is the goal of Deferred Prosecution for the Opiate Offender of the Dane County District Attorney’s Office, to provide the best wrap-around services as can be offered toward the recovery of each participant. The Deferred Prosecution Unit (DPU) Opiate Diversion Program, as all of DPU, is committed to the protection and safety of the public. DPU fully utilizes a wide spectrum of community resources to facilitate the completion of participant contracts. The program remains in accordance with all statutes and codes to ensure due process for all parties.

To this end, the mission incorporates these values:

  • Each participant will be treated with respect.
  • Services provided are ethical, efficient, and culturally sensitive.
  • Each participant is viewed as having innate worth, value, and potential.
  • Each person’s recovery is of the highest priority.
  • The DPU Department promotes an environment of productivity and teamwork.
  • DPU places emphasis on participant responsibility and accountability.

Potential participants must meet DPU eligibility requirements, as noted above, and unlike other DPU referrals, they must be Dane County residents. Please review the set of expectations below which help explain the intense nature of this program:

  • Compliance with a rigorous drug testing program that in many cases requires them to call daily to see if their color is drawn, then report by 9 am if it is.
  • Meet with the DPU counselor face to face weekly until advancing in the program phase system
  • Submit a number of written assignments
  • Fully comply with AODA treatment
  • Comply with other programming as identified as needed (employment, mental health, abuser and aggression, etc)
  • Community service
  • Restitution if claimed
  • Program fee of $60/mo unless a reduction is approved based on US Poverty Guidelines (and commonly is reduced when participants are facing high treatment expenses)

madison365Dane County Criminal Justice Council Partners To Improve Criminal Justice Outcomes   Dane County selected for unique capacity building and study! By Madison365 staff – Mar 1, 2016

Today, the Dane County Criminal Justice Council (CJC) announced a new partnership with one of the nations’ leading criminal justice funders–The Laura and John Arnold Foundation (LJAF) – to reform the County’s pretrial assessment process. It also announced that researchers from Harvard University would study the efficacy of these reforms.

The Dane County CJC and Pretrial Reform subcommittee has been reviewing best pretrial practices nation-wide for over two years, including representing the State of Wisconsin at the National Association of State Courts Pretrial Reform conference in 2014. National best practices suggest jurisdictions need a fair and accurate way to predict the likelihood of a defendant either offending while on pretrial release or failing to appear in court.

Evidence-based assessment tools have been shown as better predictors of pretrial success than professional discretion alone. Dane County will be trained and authorized to utilize the Public Safety Assessment(PSA), a risk assessment tool developed by LJAF that helps judges make accurate, efficient, and evidence-based decisions about which defendants should be detained prior to trial and which can be safely released.

Studies have demonstrated that even a short stay in jail before trial is correlated with a greater likelihood of future criminal activity. In fact, low-risk defendants held in jail for two to three days were 39 percent more likely to be arrested for a new crime than low-risk defendants who were released on the first day. Additionally, the solutions crafted by community members and criminal justice stakeholders in the recently released “Investigating Solutions to Racial Disparities and Mental Health Challenges in the Dane County Jail and throughout Dane County’s Criminal Justice System” request an improved pretrial system.

The CJC is also excited to announce that Dane County was selected by LJAF to partner with researchers at Harvard University on a multi-year study evaluating the impact of the PSA. The study will assess whether providing the PSA to judicial officials making pretrial release decision leads to positive outcomes both for the community and the criminal justice system overall.

“The opportunity to embrace innovation our criminal justice system with the Laura and John Arnold Foundation — coupled with Harvard studying our results — is indeed a win-win for Dane County” said County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan. “Our vision for a fair and just criminal justice system will be enhanced by this front-end effort.

As Dane County begins use of the PSA tool, Dane County Sheriff’s Office continues to note the structural problems within our current jails. “I am interested in safely lowering the jail population—and at the same time creating a safe space for those that have to be incarcerated” , said Sheriff Dave Mahoney. “Partnerships with national leaders like the Laura and John Arnold Foundation and Harvard University move us forward as we seek criminal justice reforms.”

“ It is critical that we work to address conscious and unconscious bias and the root causes of involvement in the criminal justice system”, said County Executive Joe Parisi, who chairs the CJC. “We are actively addressing the root causes of criminal justice involvement with early life strategies. Working with the Laura and John Arnold Foundation at the pretrial phase will help to reduce the collateral consequences of jail for many of our residents.”

Use of an evidence-based, validated assessment tool is key to diverting those that should not be held in jail, thereby mitigating the collateral consequences of jail time on the individual , and county dollars on jail stays. The process of developing key partnerships requires the criminal justice leaders to work together toward a common goal.

District Attorney Ismael Ozanne noted, “Focusing on early intervention strategies will fundamentally change our criminal justice system. My office is committed to focusing on early intervention and diversion where possible. I look forward to working with our criminal justice partners to achieve more equity and transparency.”

The use of a validated pretrial risk assessment tool in pretrial release decision making can minimize not only time in pretrial detention, but also the likelihood and length of incarceration time after sentencing, according to The Pretrial Justice Institute. The Dane County CJC will collaborate for a successful launch of the PSA tool and will monitor the process as it evolves.

“The use of a validated pretrial assessment should lead to the reduction of negative impacts of the criminal justice system on individuals, and their families. Our new partnership with LJAF and Harvard University are key first steps to overall system improvements. “ said Clerk of Courts Carlo Esqueda.

Twenty-nine jurisdictions—from major cities to entire states — are implementing the Public Safety Assessment (PSA) tool. This includes three entire states — Arizona, Kentucky, and New Jersey—as well as three of the largest cities in the country—Charlotte, Chicago, and Phoenix. Early indications have shown that the tool can help judges increase public safety while reducing jail populations.

Matt Alsdorf, interim vice president of LJAF’s Criminal Justice Initiative said, “We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with Dane County to implement the PSA, and we look forward to seeing the results of the Harvard research into the efficacy of the PSA analysis in the pretrial process.” LJAF is a private foundation that is working to address the nation’s most pressing and persistent challenges using evidence-based, multi-disciplinary approaches.

County Executive, District Attorney, Domestic Violence Advocates, Call for Resources to Address District Attorney Staffing Shortages

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 1/3/2013 Issued By: County Executive

State Report Finds Dane County Needs More Than a Dozen DAs Based on Caseload; Domestic Violence Accounts for One-Third of County Cases

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi today called on the Governor and State Legislature to provide additional resources in the upcoming state budget to address ongoing staffing shortages in the Dane County District Attorney’s office and DA offices across the state of Wisconsin.

“Providing safety, justice, and some closure for victims of crime, their families, and our communities is an essential function of our criminal justice system,” said Parisi.  “I have serious concerns that the ongoing decline in state resources for our hard-working men and women in the District Attorney’s office will damage not only our system, but the entire state’s criminal justice system.”

A recent report from the State Prosecutor’s Office within the State Department of Administration (DOA) confirmed significant shortages in assistant district attorneys (ADAs).  The state analysis found counties across Wisconsin – regardless of population, geography, or economic or demographic make-up – are facing significant challenges with dwindling numbers of prosecutors.

Many areas actually have less than half the total number of prosecutors they should have based on current caseloads.  In Dane County, the second-largest county in the state, the report found that the District Attorney’s office is operating with a shortage of 14.45 ADAs.  The Dane County DA’s office currently has 25 ADAs on staff.

In the nineties, ADAs became state employees to help smaller counties retain experienced prosecutors.  The need for the state to be represented by experienced prosecutors in matters essential to public safety was cited as a reason for prosecutors to become state employees.

“Public Safety is not negotiable.  Experienced prosecutors are an absolute necessity to public safety and our citizens deserve to have District Attorney’s offices that are adequately staffed with experienced prosecutors,” said Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne.  “We are now staffed at 1985 staffing levels which is not adequate for 2013 caseloads.  Without adequate resources District Attorney’s offices become training grounds with high turnover vs. top notched criminal prosecution experts able to attract and retain talented prosecutors at staffing levels adequate to cover the caseloads.  We recognize the Governor and State legislature for supporting and unanimously passing a statute for reinstating pay progression for ADAs across the state and we are hopeful that they will fully fund this mandate in the upcoming budget – a first step toward addressing the retention problems facing the DA program.”

As state funding for ADAs has declined over the years, workload has increased, and more cases have been dismissed, with lesser charges being pursued in certain cases.

Parisi expressed his concerns regarding ADA staffing levels in a letter he sent to the Governor, adding, “With the state projected to have more than a $200 million surplus heading into the next biennial budget, it is my hope that some of those resources can be used to address ADA staffing in some way.”  The Governor typically submits his budget to the state legislature in February.

Shortages have also had a serious impact on frequently occurring, complex cases that typically take more time to prosecute, such as those involving domestic violence.  In Dane County, domestic violence cases represent roughly a third of the cases the District Attorney’s office receives.

Parisi was also joined by domestic violence advocates who voiced their support for more state resources to ensure justice for survivors of domestic violence and their families.

“While the criminal justice system has made great progress over the decades providing meaningful support for survivors for domestic violence, and bringing their attackers to justice, we are concerned that a continued lack of resources will create a backslide,” said Shannon Barry, Executive Director of Domestic Abuse Intervention Services (DAIS).  “Providing significant accountability for offenders requires sufficient resources.”

The state’s report noted deficiencies in staffing across Wisconsin.  After adding the identified deficiencies in ADAs statewide, the report suggests Wisconsin needs more than 214 new prosecutor positions.  In other words, the state only has 65% of the actually number of prosecutors it should have.


August 17, 2012


Sixty Repeat OWI Offenders Enrolled in State-Local Pilot Program Seven Successfully Complete Program So Far

MADISON—A special Dane County Pilot Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) Treatment Court in Madison that targets hard core or repeat drunk drivers is producing positive results one year after the county and two state agencies teamed up to reduce drunk driving incidents and increase public safety.

The Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC), Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), Dane County Courts, Dane County Human Services, Dane County Sheriff’s Department, the State Public Defender’s Office and Journey Mental Health Center formed a partnership and launched the Dane County Pilot OWI Treatment Court on July 1, 2011.

Just over one year later, the OWI Treatment Court enrollment capacity has been expanded from 40 to 60 participants, seven offenders have successfully graduated from the program, and there have been no incidents of drinking and driving.

Four of the 60 participants will likely be terminated from the court program; three have not attended scheduled probation agent meetings and DOC is moving to revoke another’s probation for violating a supervision rule. However, state and local officials say the overwhelming majority of offenders in the program are doing well and early evidence shows the treatment court model is working.

“This OWI Treatment Court holds OWI offenders accountable while making sure they complete treatment and those are the keys to breaking the cycle of repeat drunk driving,” said DOC Secretary Gary Hamblin. “The DOC is committed to continuing its partnership with Dane County and others who seek solutions to the serious problem of drunk driving and the devastating impact it has on our communities.”

Offenders in the OWI Treatment Court must serve minimum jail sentences and complete mandatory treatment. The program combines frequent judicial contact, incentives, sanctions and intensive probation supervision with alcohol use monitoring to make sure an offender finishes treatment. Offenders are also offered the free option of receiving the injectable version of the drug Naltrexone which reduces or stops the cravings for alcohol that can interfere with alcohol addiction treatment.

Three men who successfully completed the program became its most recent graduates Friday, August 17. After a regular session of the Dane County OWI Treatment Court, the graduates were given special certificates as well as advice and encouragement from OWI Treatment Court Judge Markson, DOC probation agents and addiction treatment providers. Since June, four others also have graduated from the OWI Treatment Court program.

All participants in the OWI Treatment Court program are Dane County residents and have been convicted of OWI three times with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .20 or more. Offenders entering the program must:

• receive an imposed and stayed jail sentence (the amount varies from case to case),

• and be placed on probation for two years with conditions they serve jail time for a minimum of 14 days and successfully finish a treatment program.

The OWI Treatment Court program has four phases of 90 days each. Each phase allows participant more freedom as they move through the program by coming to court less and seeing their agent less. All participants must remain on some type of alcohol testing throughout the court program to monitor their abstinence compliance.

The state-local partnership with DOC is possible due to Governor Walker’s 2011-13 budget that appropriated 27.5 fulltime positions for the DOC Electronic Monitoring Center. The positions allow DOC to monitor the Dane County OWI Treatment Court participants as well as other 2nd and 3rd OWI offenders placed on probation due to 2010 legislative changes that expanded penalties for drunk driving.

DOC currently monitors 500 2nd and 3rd OWI offenders using the same Enhanced Supervision model used with the offenders referred to the Dane County OWI Treatment Court. Drunk driving continues to take a toll across the nation and Wisconsin. Last year, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WI DOT) says there were 5,297 alcohol-related crashes on Wisconsin roads. Alcohol-related crashes in 2011 killed 225 people and 2,984 were injured.