Supporting Juvenile Justice Reform

Child in institution sitting on floor with back to wall.

For Immediate Release
March 30, 2018
Contact: Amy Devine, Public Policy Coordinator, 608-267-0214

Disability Rights Wisconsin (DRW), the designated Protection and Advocacy system for people with
disabilities, is pleased with the passage and signing of the Juvenile Justice Reform Bill (AB 953), which
points Wisconsin’s juvenile corrections and treatment systems in a new direction.

DRW has engaged in both individual and systemic advocacy around the intersection of disability and the
criminal justice system for many years. “Disability Rights Wisconsin has long supported a smaller
regionalized model that emphasizes treatment, rehabilitation, and education, including specialized
educational services consistent with each child’s needs. This model holds the promise of providing
better treatment options for youth closer to home,” stated Managing Attorney Kit Kerschensteiner.

DRW encourages the Juvenile Corrections Study Committee to thoroughly study best practices for this
population in making their recommendations. The success of this reform hinges on the state providing
sufficient resources to ensure youth have the services they need for rehabilitation, including a full
continuum of mental health and educational supports. Funding for facilities will not be meaningful
unless accompanied by a new model of juvenile justice. It is also imperative there is oversight to ensure
an environment where youth are safe from abuse, including an investment in the staffing and
infrastructure needed to provide this oversight.

This legislation provides the opportunity to change the culture of our juvenile justice system and to
promote greater family and community engagement to support these young people. DRW appreciates
the efforts of both the Governor and Legislature to address what is a current and growing crisis in our
juvenile justice system and looks forward to a continuing collaboration with all stakeholders to bring
about juvenile justice reforms that will move Wisconsin forward.

Disability Rights Wisconsin is the federally mandated Protection and Advocacy system for the State of
Wisconsin, charged with protecting the rights of individuals with disabilities and keeping individuals
free from abuse and neglect.