The Third Branch
Statewide approach to coordinating problem-solving courts taking hold
The Director of State Courts Office, in an effort to implement recommendations included in the Effective Justice Strategies in Wisconsin: A Report of Findings and Recommendations report, recently hired a statewide problem-solving court coordinator and was awarded a grant to engage in a project to develop and implement statewide drug court performance measures.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court and Committee of Chief Judges met to discuss issues of mutual interest during their annual joint meeting on Jan. 15 in Madison. Topping this year’s agenda was problem-solving courts. Here, Chief Judge Randy R. Koschnick makes a point about how problem-solving courts may affect judicial workload.
Shelly Cern, former PPAC policy analyst, was hired to serve as the state problem-solving court coordinator in the Office of Court Operations. The Office of Justice Assistance awarded the Director of State Courts Office grant funding to provide for this position. Building on the findings of the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) report Effective Justice Strategies in Wisconsin and the Treatment Alternatives and Diversion evaluation report, the problem-solving court coordinator will be a resource to local problem-solving courts and will work to advance statewide initiatives. Specifically the coordinator will work to encourage adherence to best practices for local treatment courts; assist local courts to develop their current programs and launch new treatment courts as needed; help to ensure accurate, effective data collection efforts; and otherwise help establish Wisconsin as a leader in the treatment courts community.
In partnership with the NCSC, the Director of State Courts Office applied for and received a grant from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance to develop standard performance measures for Wisconsin's drug and hybrid courts. This is a two-year award which began in October 2012. The primary goal of this project is to establish a functional and effective performance measurement system for Wisconsin drug and hybrid courts.
In January the NCSC staff brought together members of the PPAC Effective Justice Strategies Subcommittee and a group of Wisconsin drug court stakeholders to begin the work to identify and define performance measures.
The Wisconsin Association of Treatment Court Professionals (WATCP) is currently drafting model drug court standards. These standards lay out key components for the state's treatment courts regarding their treatment court teams, training, screening, assessment, case management, and management of courts in Wisconsin. These two efforts go hand in hand and will provide local drug courts with valuable tools to assess program effectiveness. The measures will provide a method for assessing compliance with the model standards. Once the measures and standards are developed, the NCSC will sponsor a series of regional trainings to teach local courts how to implement the performance measures and model standards in their local drug court.