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Justice Reinvestment Initiative at the Local Level: Getting To Know Eau Claire County, Wisconsin

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2016
4 pages

This report summarizes the activities and achievements of Phases I and II of Eau Claire's (Wisconsin) Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI), which focused on reducing costs and improving outcomes for the criminal justice system.


Phase I involved the collection and analysis of data on how criminal justice resources were being used by the county. The analysis determined that low or moderate risk pretrial defendants accounted for 40 percent of jail bookings, and $450,000 was spent in housing this population. In addition, it was projected that the new jail would exceed its rated capacity in less than 5 years. Further analysis was undertaken and a model was developed for simulating changes that the policy team believed would reduce criminal justice costs and improve outcomes. Based on the significant analysis and strategic agreements among the JRI leadership team, two major initiatives were proposed for Phase II of the JRI. They involved the establishment of a pretrial program that would include a more robust pretrial release assessment along with supervision and services for pretrial defendants. A second major effort was the establishment of alternatives to incarceration for those arrested for driving while intoxicated and those arrested for abusing methamphetamine. In implementing these policies and programs, the county has made significant progress in reducing jail bed days and reoffending rates for defendants charged with driving while intoxicated.