The John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge (SJC) supports jurisdictions around the country working to safely reduce over-reliance on jails. Jurisdictions participating in the Challenge develop and model effective ways to keep people out of jail who don’t belong there, more effectively reintegrate those who must be confined into the community upon release, and help them stay out of jail thereafter.

PRA’s sister non-profit company, Policy Research, Inc. (PRI), is a partner organization with the Safety and Justice Challenge, providing intensive technical assistance to the SJC Network surrounding issues of over-incarceration of individuals with serious mental illness (SMI). Below is a summary of Milwaukee County, Wisconsin’s recent work with PRI around SJC reforms focused on widespread trauma in the criminal justice system.

Milwaukee County’s trauma strategy includes providing training for criminal justice system stakeholders to encourage appropriate responses to trauma and ultimately improve outcomes for justice-involved individuals. PRI delivered its How Being Trauma-Informed Improves Criminal Justice System Responses train-the-trainer program to Milwaukee in February and September 2017, equipping 30 individuals to lead trauma training deliveries. Fifteen subsequent training deliveries have been held to date, with two additional sessions anticipated by the end of the year. More than 300 criminal justice system stakeholders have attended the training.

Erin Perkins, SJC Project Manager at the Milwaukee Community Justice Council, shared feedback from one training participant who reported, “I was pleasantly surprised that I not only enjoyed the training, but found it useful…This training provided concrete examples of what trauma looks like, what we can do to address it on an individual basis, and delved into what we can do to address it systemically. It was a refreshing change.”

Milwaukee is planning to schedule additional trainings in 2018, including trainings specifically for judges and court staff. PRI will continue work with Milwaukee County in early 2018 to undertake additional trauma-specific strategic planning, with the goal of implementing reforms to improve a systemic response to trauma.

Check out PRI’s impact in this infographic!