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County Receives National Grant to Reduce Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System

For more information contact:

Casey Slaughter Becker, Office of the County Executive 608.267.8823 or cell, 608.843.8858; Colleen Clark, Dane County Office of Equal Opportunity, 608.266.3022


Issued By: County Executive
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American Bar Association Selects Dane County as One of Four National Sites


Dane County Executive Joe Parisi and Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne announced today that the county has been selected to receive a $24,000 grant from the American Bar Association (ABA) to aid Dane County in its work to reduce racial disparities in the criminal justice system. 


“It is critical that we take a detailed look at the initiatives in which we have engaged to reduce racial disparities,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi.  “This grant will help us move forward with the best practices to reduce disparities.”


The ABA grant extends for a two-year period beginning in June 2013.  The ABA will assist the Dane County Criminal Justice Council on lowering racial disparities in the criminal justice system using technical advice, data analysis and facilitation. 


In 2010, the American Bar Association Criminal Justice Section launched the Racial Justice Improvement Project (RJIP), with support from the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). The RJIP is a two-year federally funded initiative designed to identify and reform policies and practices that produce racial disparities in local criminal justice systems across the country.  The grant award has been extended to include Dane County as one of four new sites chosen nation-wide.


“This is a great opportunity for Dane County and the criminal justice community to impact racial disparities here at home as we learn from other communities with similar issues,” said Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne.  “To be chosen for this grant is certainly tied to the magnitude of the problem we face here in Dane County.  The support from the American Bar Association can only help us move forward with the task at hand.”


Dane County’s Office of Equal Opportunity wrote and was awarded the grant on behalf of the Dane County Criminal Justice Council (CJC).  The CJC is Chaired by County Executive Parisi, and includes the Dane County Sheriff, Dane County District Attorney, Chief Judge, the county’s Clerk of Courts, Dane County Board Chair, and the Chiefs of the City of Madison and City of Sun Prairie Police Departments, Public Defender and Chair of Public Protection and Judiciary committee.


Wisconsin overall, and specifically Dane County, has consistently ranked as one of the highest places for criminal justice racial disparities in the country. 

The CJC has utilized the Dane County Task Force on Racial Disparities in the Criminal Justice System Report 2009, the Dane County Implementation   Team’s work, as well as fact gathering and program analysis from CJC members, to maintain a continued effort at reduction of disparities.


Dane County prides itself on being a welcoming place for all.  Reform efforts at reducing current racial disparities will help engage all members of our community.  Meeting minutes for the Dane County Criminal Justice Council can be found at:


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