Facebook Youtube

Clarence Johnson Begins as WCS Executive Director

Clarence Johnson became the WCS Executive Director on January 1, 2017.

See Press Release!

Policy & Research


WCS' CDLRE Wins the 2014 Greater Together Challenge!

ClICK HERE FOR MORE INFO!
 

WCS works to advance state and local
policy proposals that improve justice and
community safety in Wisconsin. WCS also
opposes bills that threaten to harm those
who face adversity due to poverty, mental
illness, dependency on alcohol or other
drugs, and/or juvenile or adult criminal activity.

 


Contact Information:
Nichole Yunk Todd, Division Administrator of Milwaukee Youth Services

9 a.m.–5 p.m. Monday–Thursday
Phone: (414) 343-3581
Email
 


Major Issue Areas

• Community Safety
• Employment barriers for former offenders
• Valid driver’s licenses for persons who are low-income
   Policy changes are a critical goal of the Center for Driver’s License Recovery and Employability
   (CDLRE), a public-private partnership among WCS, Legal Action of Wisconsin, City of
   Milwaukee, 
and Milwaukee Area Technical College.   
• High-quality, dual diagnosis mental health and addiction treatment services


2013-14 
State Legislative Session

  • Community Safety-- WCS successfully urged the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors to accept County Executive Chris Abele’s proposed transfer of apprehension authority from the Sheriff’s Office to the District Attorney’s Office in 2014. Sheriff David Clarke stopped responding to warrants at the House of Correction (HOC) Superintendent’s request, beginning in June of 2013, when the superintendent restored the highly-successful electronic monitoring program that the sheriff eliminated in late 2011. WCS supervises persons on SCRAM-x (alcohol monitoring with house arrest) and operates the Milwaukee County Day Reporting Center (MCDRC), where Huber inmates, along with persons on deferred prosecution and electronic monitoring, can receive a variety of evidence-based interventions.  This activity places WCS in direct contact with individuals who may need to be investigated and potentially apprehended in Milwaukee County.  WCS is also in favor of random checks of inmates who have community access to ensure a higher degree of community safety.
  • Employment barriers for former offenders-- WCS, in partnership with Legal Action of Wisconsin, has researched two broad policy areas that affect persons who have been convicted of criminal misdemeanor and/or felony offenses in the State of Wisconsin.  The resulting recommendations are to 1) eliminate non-rationally related collateral sanctions for persons in Wisconsin who have been released from prison; and 2) create an interagency system in Wisconsin to manage the various debts associated with incarceration. These policy goals are of critical importance to allow former offenders to obtain and maintain employment, which will safely reduce Wisconsin’s prison population and save costs to Wisconsin taxpayers. States around the country have been successful in their bipartisan efforts to reform their costly and ineffective justice systems.  WCS and Legal Action will continue to advance these recommendations in Wisconsin.
  • Valid driver’s licenses for persons who are low-income-- WCS and its Center for Driver’s License Recovery and Employability (CDLRE) partners are advocating for a change that would reduce the driver’s license suspension period of defendants who fail to make timely payment of traffic forfeitures from two years to one year.  The courts currently may suspend drivers for up to two years pursuant to sections 345.47(1)(b) and 800.095(1)(a). In 2012, there were 244,072 suspensions for failure to pay forfeiture (“FPF”) which constituted 55.10% of all license suspensions ordered that year in the state.  We are asking lawmakers to consider the following points:
    • FPF suspensions are not safety-related-- they exist solely as a forfeiture collection mechanism for the courts.
    • The current suspension period of two years is unnecessary and ineffective in coercing payments after a period of six months to one year. This is demonstrated by an analysis of payment patterns at Milwaukee Municipal Court, which reveals that, on average, nearly 92% of all payments are made within six months of the date on which judgment is ordered. A similar finding has been made in other municipalities as well.
    • Suspensions beyond one year only serve to penalize low-income drivers who are unable to pay during the balance of the two-year period and are thus unable to drive legally during that period.
    • The FPF 2-year suspensions are longer than suspensions or revocations ordered for many drunk driving cases, for all demerit point accumulations, and for failure to pay after an uninsured motor vehicle accident.
    • For forfeitures which are still owing at the end of the one-year suspension period there is an alternative, more effective, method for collection of forfeitures - the Tax Refund Interception Program of the Wisconsin Department of Revenue which enables the courts to intercept state tax refunds to pay overdue forfeitures. Analysis of payment patterns at Milwaukee Municipal Court over a period of six years demonstrates that, over time, a very high percentage of unpaid traffic forfeitures is collected through tax interception.

Local Advocacy

  • Community Safety -- WCS is urging the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors to accept County Executive Chris Abele’s proposed transfer of apprehension authority from the Sheriff’s Office to the District Attorney’s Office in 2014.  Sheriff David Clarke has not responded to warrants at the House of Correction (HOC) Superintendent’s request since June of 2013 when the superintendent restored the highly-successful electronic monitoring program that the sheriff eliminated in late 2011.  WCS supervises persons on SCRAM-x (alcohol monitoring with house arrest) and operates the Milwaukee County Day Reporting Center (MCDRC), where Huber inmates, along with persons on deferred prosecution and electronic monitoring, can receive a variety of evidence-based interventions, which places WCS in direct contact with individuals who may need to be investigated and potentially apprehended in Milwaukee County.  WCS is also in favor of random checks of inmates who have community access to ensure a higher degree of community safety.

2011-12
State Legislative Session

  • Valid driver’s licenses for persons who are low-income-- WCS actively pursued what is now 2011 Wisconsin Act 112, which decreased the number of years of a driver’s license suspension for a damage judgment arising from an uninsured auto accident from 20 to five (see below).
  • Employment barriers for former offenders-- WCS joined many others to successfully oppose the following measures:
    • AB 286/SB 207, which would have allowed Wisconsin employers to discriminate against any convicted felon based on his or her conviction regardless of when it occurred and whether it was substantially related to the job to which the person applied. The Wisconsin Fair Employment Act does not allow discrimination based on arrest or conviction unless it is substantially related to the job; Wisconsin is one of only six states in the country to provide this protection., which would have reinstated a bail bond system in the State of Wisconsin, a system that was abolished in our state in the late 1970s because of widespread corruption. Governor Walker previously vetoed this measure when it was included in the 2011-13 biennium budget because it had not been adequately examined by an appropriate committee of the legislature.
    • AB 286/SB 207, which would have allowed Wisconsin employers to discriminate against any convicted felon based on his or her conviction regardless of when it occurred and whether it was substantially related to the job to which the person applied. The Wisconsin Fair Employment Act does not allow discrimination based on arrest or conviction unless it is substantially related to the job; Wisconsin is one of only six states in the country to provide this protection.

Local Advocacy

  • Community Safety -- WCS was successful in its efforts, along with other community agencies and concerned stakeholders in the county’s justice system, to change the management of the Milwaukee County House of Correction (HOC) from the Sheriff’s Office to an appointed and confirmed Superintendent in the 2013 budget.  WCS is grateful to the County Executive and County Board for supporting this amendment, which was authored by Supervisors Nikiya Harris and Patricia Jursik.  Subsequently, WCS advocated for the confirmation of Michael Hafemann to the position of Superintendent, which occurred in May of 2013.  Since Superintendent Hafemann’s confirmation, WCS is pleased with the significant improvements at the HOC, including increased officer training; reinstatement of visitation by minor children of inmates; expansion of electronic monitoring; utilization of the Day Reporting Center (including direct transportation for Huber inmates who are incarcerated but given leave for employment and other constructive purposes); and embrace of evidence-based principles with offenders, including (validated) Risk and Need Analysis (LSI-R and LS/CMI), Targeted Interventions (such as electronic monitoring), and Skill Training with Directed Practice (such as cognitive intervention programs).

Historic Accomplishments

Driver’s licensing for persons who are low-income
Policy changes are a critical goal of the Center for Driver’s License Recovery and Employability, a public-private partnership among WCS, Legal Action of Wisconsin, City of Milwaukee Municipal Court, and Milwaukee Area Technical College

     Since 2010, WCS and its partners have championed the following bi-partisan state law changes:

  • 2011 Wisconsin Act 112
    SEE MEDIA RELEASE (November 2011)

    Act 112 decreased the number of years of a driver’s license suspension for a damage judgment arising from an uninsured auto accident from 20 to five.
     
  • 2009 Wisconsin Act 102
    SEE MEDIA RELEASE (January 2010) 
       
    SEE MEDIA RELEASE (May 2010)
    Act 102 ended the automatic license revocation on the 4th Operating While Suspended (OWS) conviction and made such revocations discretionary with judges.  This change was applied retroactively by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, positively impacting over 40,000 low-income drivers in just one day. 

     Prior to becoming part of WCS in 2010, the Center for Driver’s License Recovery and Employability also worked
     to achieve:

  • 2009 Wisconsin Act 8
    SEE MEDIA RELEASE (March 2009)

    Act 8 allowed Wisconsin to become the 38th state to opt out of a 1992 federal mandate that required a minimum six-month suspension of a driver’s license for any drug-related conviction, most of which have nothing to do with a vehicle.
  • 2009 Wisconsin Act 17 - primary work completed by Legal Action of Wisconsin
    Act 17 provided for reasonable installment payments toward current or defaulted traffic citations for persons who are low-income.

 


Signing of 2009 Wisconsin Act 102: from left to right: Co-author State Representative Tamara Grigsby, Cindy McGinnis (Grigsby’s Chief of Staff), Retired Judge James A. Gramling, Jr., Todd  Meurer (Dane County Court System), Former Governor Jim Doyle (seated), Co-author State Senator Lena Taylor, Eric Peterson (Taylor’s Chief of Staff), David Pifer (Legal Action of Wisconsin), and Nichole Yunk Todd (WCS).