Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, along with Madison Police Chief Koval and YWCA Executive Director Rachel Krinsky, have announced a pilot program that will divert all 12-16 year old youth from the city of Madison who receive a municipal citation from the criminal justice system to a restorative court beginning Sept. 15. This effort is a result of a grant awarded to Dane County from the Department of Children and Families for $208,000 through the Brighter Futures Initiative and Early Intervention Program. The City of Madison issues approximately 70 citations per month with approximately 75 percent issued to youth of color.
“This new program will help intervene with young people before they are in serious trouble and connect them to their community and county services,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. “We are hoping this program will be a real chance to change young peoples’ paths early while still holding them accountable for their actions.”
Youth issued a municipal citation will be held in the court services unit of MPD and will not be entered as an arrest. YWCA will refer and coordinate their orientation. They will then be placed into either a peer court or a restorative circle. The YWCA will follow up on youth completing their requirements. A YWCA coordinator will communicate with MPD regarding compliance and/or completion. Restorative interventions will occur at Meadowood Community Center, Warner Park Community Center, Social Justice Center, Fountain of Life Church and Centro Hispano through either YWCA or Tymebank. Dane County will report the results of the pilot project to the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families.
“Historically, when an officer has contact with a child who has made a bad choice resulting in harm to the community, a citation is issued resulting in a fine or other administrative sanctions,” remarked Madison Police Chief Koval. “While holding our youth accountable is important, a citation (in and of itself) does little to address the circumstances of “why” or “what” prompted the unlawful behavior and oftentimes begins an eventual path to the criminal justice system. The Early Intervention Program will serve as a timely diagnostic tool to help us better discern root causes, provides wrap-around services, and still holds kids accountable. Truly, this is a “win” for all of us committed to different outcomes through restorative justice approaches.”
“The YWCA is committed to eliminating racism and we are well aware that youth of color are disproportionately ticketed and arrested,” said Rachel Krinsky, executive director of YWCA. “Therefore, we are thrilled to have an opportunity to offer young people a restorative alternative which will allow them to address any harm they may have caused without going to court. This initiative will help hundreds of youth avoid the barriers to employment, housing and other opportunities that an arrest or conviction record can cause, improving their prospects for the future.”