Rock County creating crime policies: EBDM Initiative uses research to create framework

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JANESVILLE — Rock County is moving forward with creating reasonable crime policies.

Last year, the county became one of several sites for The National Institute of Corrections’ (NIC) Evidence-Based Decision Making (EBDM) Initiative. The initiative uses decades of research on recidivism to create reasonable crime policies. The goal is to create a systemwide framework (from arrest through discharge) that, when implemented, results in more evidence-based decision making in local criminal justice systems. EDBM was developed more than five years ago, as a partnership between the Center for Effective Public Policy and NIC. Since then, the program has been launched at several sites in Indiana, Virginia and Wisconsin, with several counties participating in the program.

The program is currently in phase five and the committee members have created four key work groups to address various areas of the system. Those groups are: Behavioral Health Information Sharing, which has a goal of "ensuring access to, and the sharing of, behavioral health information between criminal justice and behavioral health professionals, 24/7”; Risk Assessments, which has a goal of "gaining consensus on, and implement the use of empirically-based assessment tools across the justice system decision points”; Risk Reduction Interventions, which has a goal of "implementing a continuum of evidence-based risk reduction interventions across the justice system decision points”; and Community Education/Collaboration Buy-In, which has a goal of developing and implementing a strategic plan to provide professional development opportunities for stakeholders on evidence-based decision making and evidence-based practices, and educating the broader public on evidence-based principles and practices and local and state efforts underway to increase public safety.

Elizabeth Pohlman McQuillen, Criminal Justice System Planner/Analyst for the county, said the goal is to create a work plan and logic models for each policy the work groups pursue. She said the county will need to decide if it wants to apply for the next phase of the process, which is implementation. That phase would be more competitive, placing Rock County against all other EBDM sites.

"Regardless of whether Rock County is chosen, I would anticipate that the EBDM Policy Team or Criminal Justice Coordinating Council would move forward with implementation of some sort based off of all of the hard work from phase five," said Pohlman McQuillen in an email.

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