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Basic services, 2017

  • Overall

    Locally operated

  • Detention

    Locally operated

  • Probation

    Locally operated

  • Reentry

    Mostly state operated

Delinquency services in Wisconsin are primarily administered at the local level. In Wisconsin, there are 16 county-operated secure detention facilities and 2 state-operated secure detention facilities.

Probation services are locally administered by county social service departments. Reentry services are administered by executive agencies at the state and local level. Some counties contract with the Division of Juvenile Corrections (DJC) within the Department of Corrections to provide aftercare supervision, while other counties provide their own local reentry services.

Commitment to public facilities is administered at the state level by DJC.

Corrections agency, 2015

  • Independent juvenile corrections agency

  • Family/child welfare agency or division

  • Broad human services agency

  • Adult corrections agency or division

The Division of Juvenile Corrections (DJC) within the Wisconsin Department of Corrections administers commitments to state juvenile correctional facilities. Reentry services are administered by DJC or at the local level by counties.

Solitary confinement, 2016

  • Prohibits punitive confinement

  • Limits punitive confinement

  • No limits on punitive confinement

  • Did not respond

Solitary confinement for punitive purposes is allowed in Wisconsin's juvenile correctional facilities. Youth may be placed in close confinement (1 hour a day out of cell) for up to 6 days and modified confinement (4 hours a day out of cell) for up to 60 days. A disciplinary hearing is required.  (Adapted from 51 Jurisdiction Survey of Juvenile Solitary Confinement Rules in Juvenile Justice Systems, 2016. Lowenstein Center for the Public Interest at Lowenstein Sandler LLP)

Release decision, 2016

  • Agency

  • Court

  • Parole board

  • Agency and court

Release decisions for youth committed to the Division of Juvenile Corrections (DJC) are the responsibility of the Division. The DJC is bound by statute to release youth deemed rehabilitated and no longer a threat to the community. Therefore, DJC has established an Office of Juvenile Offender Review (OJOR) to organize case reviews for making case plan adjustments and release decisions. Committing courts are not required to be notified of a youths release but notification does occur in many counties.

Risk assessment, 2017

Organization 2013 2017
Statewide uniform assessment
Layered/regional assessment
Locally administered assessment

Juvenile probation is administered in Wisconsin in a variety of state and local formats, depending on the jurisdiction. However, state statutes designate the Department of Corrections (DOC) to recommend a consistent approach to risk-need classification in probation. The DOC has recently adopted the COMPAS Risk & Need Assessment System to replace a prior recommendation for the Wisconsin Risk/Needs Scale.

The DOC provides training and consultation support for jurisdictions interested in adopting the recommendation. However, a recent survey of jurisdictions conducted by the state juvenile justice advisory groups suggests practice is divergent across the state. The YASI is typically used in the largest, most urban counties. Several mid-size to smaller counties have adopted the JAIS and a handful of jurisdictions continue to use the Wisconsin Risk Assessment as they transitioning to the new recommendation to adopt COMPAS. In a decentralized system, there is divergence in how screening results are applied across jurisdictions. Further, aggregate risk-need data are not easily obtainable or used for state policy planning. Thus use of risk-need screening data to support local validation, planning and policy research occurs at the jurisdiction level in Wisconsin.

Risk instruments, 2017

  • Statute or agency policy

    Required by state or administrative regulation

  • Agency recommended

    Recommended by probation oversite agency

Risk instruments tool used

Mental health screening, 2014

Requires a research-based mental health screening

  • Secure detention

  • Probation

  • Corrections

Mental health screening tool used
Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument –Version 2 (MAYSI-2)

Wisconsin requires the use of a research-based mental health screening instrument in juvenile corrections. The Wisconsin Department of Corrections, Division of Juvenile Corrections (DJC) identifies the Massachusetts Youth Screening Instrument, 2nd Edition (MAYSI-2) in the DJC Case Management Manual. The cost of a screening is built into the DJC facility daily rate. By Statute, DJC has regulatory authority over a decentralized system of locally administered detention and juvenile court social services (probation). DJC currently recommends and provides support for an evidence based juvenile justice risk and needs assessment but not a separate standardized mental health screening. Therefore local practices vary in this regard for detention screening and community supervision.

Frameworks for evidence-based practices, 2014

  • Statute

    Supporting commitment to EBPs

  • Administrative regulations

    Either in corrections, probation, or the juvenile court

  • Support center

    Or collaboration dedicated to coordinating activities around implementing, evaluating, and sustaining EBPs

  • No stance

    No official stance on EBPs

  • Did not respond

    State did not respond to the survey

Wisconsin supports the implementation and proliferation of evidence-based programs and practices (EBPs) in the juvenile justice system through the Department of Corrections, Division of Juvenile Corrections (DJC). DJC defines juvenile justice EBPs in the state and applies specific practices and programming for its operations and factors the cost of EBPs into facility daily rates. Specific DJC treatment programs include juvenile cognitive-behavioral intervention, seeking Safety substance use disorder curriculum, and Aggression Replacement Training.

With regard to delinquency prevention, Wisconsin school employs Positive Behavioral Intervention and Support (PBIS) to promote responsible behavior and prevent juvenile justice system involvement. Trauma-informed care principles are being applied to assessment, treatment, security and milieu. DJC is modifying purchase-of-service contracts for its field operation with requirements that providers use evidence-based programs when providing community based treatment to youth.

There is no research and planning support for measuring EBP outcomes. DJC is exploring alternatives for providing EBP research support through its COMPAS assessment system (see the statewide Risk Assessment section above) and recidivism measures.

Recidivism reporting, 2016

Study populations

The group(s) of youth being studied in states that publicly report recidivism data.

  • Arrest

  • Court action

  • Supervision

  • Placement

Re-offense events

Events that are used to measure recidivism in states that publicly report recidivism data.

  • Arrest

  • Court action

  • Supervision

  • Placement

Follow-up periods

Details regarding the length of time and frequency that youth are tracked in states that publicly report recidivism data.

36 months with interval and adult systems reporting


Additional levels of analysis provided in states that publicly report recidivism data.

  • County

  • Age

  • Gender

  • Race/ethn.

  • Risk level

  • Initial offense

  • Re-offense

  • Prior history

The Wisconsin Division of Juvenile Corrections reports recidivism rates for youth exiting juvenile corrections. Recidivism is defined as being found by the court to have committed a new offense within three years of the release date from a correctional facility that resulted in (1) a new juvenile commitment, (2) prison sentence, or (3) an adult probation sentence. Recidivism rates are provided in 12 month intervals with a maximum reporting period of 36 months. 

Data sources

Division of Juvenile Corrections 2014 Annual Report
Wisconsin Department of Corrections

About this project

Juvenile Justice GPS (Geography, Policy, Practice, Statistics) is a project to develop a repository providing state policy makers and system stakeholders with a clear understanding of the juvenile justice landscape in the states.

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