Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Milwaukee County, Wisconsin

Milwaukee County, Wisconsin, is located in the southeastern part of the state and has a population of approximately 950,000. The county includes the city of Milwaukee, which is the largest city in the state of Wisconsin and the 26th most populous city in the United States. The judicial system is comprised of the courts and the district attorney’s office, which work with law enforcement agencies to administer and enforce state and municipal law. The Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office, the City of Milwaukee Police Department (MPD), and the Milwaukee Fire Department (MFD) are the three largest entities providing public safety services in the region.

EBDM Stakeholders

An EBDM Vision

By applying what the evidence tells us about what actually works in protecting the community and holding offenders accountable, Milwaukee County's criminal justice system will make the smartest possible use of its limited resources, continuously improving its performance against quantifiable goals and reinvesting the savings in programs that reduce crime in the first place.

The EBDMI policy team was formed in 2010 as a subset of the executive committee of the Milwaukee County Community Justice Council, formed in 2008. The team includes the following elected officials and stakeholders:

  • the county executive
  • the sheriff
  • a county board member
  • the district attorney
  • the city mayor
  • the chief judge of Milwaukee County Circuit Court, First Judicial District
  • the city’s chief of police
  • the State of Wisconsin first assistant public defender
  • the executive director of the Benedict Center
  • representatives from the Department of Corrections and the State Office of Justice Assistance
  • the United States Marshall of the Eastern District of Wisconsin (ex officio)
  • the court’s pretrial services coordinator
  • an inspector from the sheriff’s office
  • the presiding judge of the felony division of the Milwaukee County Circuit Court

The team is staffed by the coordinator of the community justice council, a deputy district attorney, and a public defender.

What stakeholders in Milwaukee County are saying about the EBDM Initiative:

The EBDM Initiative recognizes that “…true system change requires leadership from key policymakers, commitment throughout all levels of justice system organizations, and policy and practice alignment.” I couldn’t agree more. In the past, law enforcement in particular has been a closed society, silo-like endeavor. No longer. The EBDM Framework will further shape the work that we have already begun in interagency cooperation and systemic change, and as such its potential is truly exciting.
– Sheriff David Clarke, Jr.

From the perspective of community activists, change comes really, really hard in Milwaukee. So the breadth of collaborative action to initiate EBDM within every facet of the justice system is nothing short of awesome. System-encompassing evidence-based practice-already being implemented, solidly on the drawing board, or still in the alluring "what if" stage-underscores such a high degree of commitment that talk of becoming a model for the nation is serious talk.
– Kit McNally, Benedict Center Executive Director

Harm Reduction Goals

Milwaukee County’s harm reduction goals include the following:

  1. Reduce by 25% the number of people with mental health needs who lose their benefits due to being jailed or losing housing, and increase by 25% the number of individuals with mental health needs who are reconnected to the services they need within 20 days of arrest.
  2. Safely release and/or supervise 15% more pretrial detainees in the community rather than in jail, generating at least $1,000,000 in savings that can be reinvested in the community, and at the same time reduce by at least 40% the already low rates at which defendants waiting for trial fail to follow pretrial rules.
  3. Divert or defer prosecution in 10% more cases than we do currently, holding offenders accountable, compensating victims, and reducing recidivism, while generating at least $350,000 in savings that can be reinvested in the community.
  4. Demonstrate in a pilot project that by terminating probation as soon as an offender in need of treatment has received sufficient treatment, we can cut the cost of probation by at least 50% and at the same time reduce probation recidivism by 50%.


Read more about Milwaukee County’s activities

  1. Universal Screening/Praxis
  2. Milwaukee County Early Intervention Program: Presentation given at the National Symposium on Pretrial Diversion, May 30, 2012
  3. As part of Milwaukee County’s efforts to expand and strengthen their deferred prosecution agreement and diversion processes, they are planning to bring in some professionals to train their pretrial staff and outside treatment providers in cognitive behavioral treatment (CBT) approaches (i.e., Thinking for a Change, Moral Reconation Therapy). By providing CBT groups on-site, the county can guarantee that the appropriate participants receive the services that will address their underlying antisocial thoughts and belief systems. Milwaukee County hopes that this would lead to better recidivism outcomes and also increase buy-in from various stakeholders.

Download some of Milwaukee County’s products

  1. Phase III Application
  2. Scorecard

Read more about Milwaukee County in the news

  1. Video Clip: The Value of Criminal Justice Coordinating Councils in Wisconsin
  2. Online Article: The Return of a Very Bad Idea
  3. Blog: Evidence-Based Decision Making: The Increasing Use of Research in our Criminal Justice System
  4. Online Article: The Evidence Tells Us We are on the Right Track, The Third Branch, Wisconsin Court System Website
  5. Article: Blessings, and Other Metrics Worth Counting, Milwaukee Bar Association Messenger, Winter, 2011
  6. Article: Get Smart? Marquette Lawyer, Fall 2011
  7. Video Clip: Justice in Times of Transition and Tight Budgets

For more information on the effort in Milwaukee County:
Contact James Hiller at
Contact Chief Judge Jeffrey Kremers at