As Dane County plans to develop a community justice center, the Dane County Criminal Justice Council has announced a community educational event and conversation on the community justice center model.

The virtual community event will take place on Thursday, Oct. 29, at 5 p.m. Residents are encouraged to attend and can register to join the Zoom event here: https://us02web.zoom.us/.../reg.../WN_a2Qt4YoKTNaHoVxBSLWUjw

This event is an opportunity for residents to hear from national leaders of the community justice center movement, to ask questions, and to share their ideas and influence the development of a community justice center that could transform criminal justice in Dane County.

"The community justice center provides Dane County with a unique model to put into action what we’ve been talking about by creating, with the community, a multi-service center that has the potential to truly transform how we do criminal justice in Dane County," said County Board Supervisor and state Representative Shelia Stubbs. "I look forward to kicking off work on this exciting initiative with our community and to creating something that can be a model for the rest of Wisconsin, as well."

The community conversation will include a presentation from the following featured speakers: The Honorable Alex Calabrese, Presiding Judge for the Red Hook Community Justice Center in New York; Brett Taylor, Senior Advisor, Center for Court Innovation; Dr. Alex Gee, Jr., President/Founder, Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership Development; State Representative Shelia Stubbs; and Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne.

Dane County previously partnered with the Center for Court Innovation and has been inspired by the community justice centers in New York. In 2015, Dane County sent County, City of Madison, and community leaders to New York City to learn about community courts, restorative justice, and systems change through collaboration. This collaborative team included Dr. Gee, Representative Stubbs, and DA Ozanne, as indicated in this national blog. This led to the development of a community restorative court and the hopeful development of a community justice center. Additional information on the Red Hook Community Justice Center can be found in this short video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dxdjnXpZgjI

"This town hall event will build on the work we have been doing to make Dane County a place where justice is equitable and accessible to all,” said Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne. “I look forward to participating in this community conversation about how we can create a community justice center that meets the needs of Dane County residents in an innovative and meaningful way."

“I’ll never forget seeing a judge, whose bench was on floor level, walk from behind it to hug a defendant who had completed what was required of him by that judge,” remembered Dr. Alex Gee, Jr., about his experience with New York’s community justice centers. “I teared up because I’d never seen such affirmation of the humanity of a defendant before. His charges were dropped and he felt he could start all over.”

Following the presentations, there will be an opportunity for residents to ask questions.

Questions can also be submitted in advance of the event by emailing them to engagedane@countyofdane.com

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