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Milwaukee County Receives Grant to Help Reduce Jail Population

The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation announced Wednesday that Milwaukee County will receive a $2 million grant during the next two years to help reduce jail populations and address racial and ethnic disparities in the criminal justice system, according to a press release from Milwaukee County Courts. Milwaukee County was among 20 jurisdictions selected nationally to receive grants under the foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge.

The grant will be used to build on the collaborative efforts of local law enforcement, corrections officials, prosecutors, defenders, judges, and other stakeholders led by the Milwaukee County Community Justice Council, said Chief Judge Maxine A. White, Milwaukee County Circuit Court.

“We are extremely grateful and honored to have received this award and opportunity from the MacArthur Foundation. With their help and our efforts, we can better protect public safety by smart use of our jails and working with issues of mental illness and substance abuse in a more systematic and effective way. This opportunity allows Milwaukee County to continue as a leader in criminal justice reform,” White said.

As part of the effort, Milwaukee County will institute a new post-booking stabilization program for individuals suffering from mental health or substance abuse issues that will remove them from jail within 48 hours and connect them with appropriate services, White said.

The county will also provide law enforcement with additional resources and trauma-informed training, while also increasing the utilization of existing behavioral health services. Through these initiatives alone, the county aims to reduce mental health misdemeanor bookings by 15 percent and the number of competency hearings by half, White said.

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