Attorney Erika Bierma has been appointed by the Governor to the Governor’s Juvenile Justice Commission (GJJC). Partner in the Criminal Law practice team, Tom Brush, described the importance of this appointment saying “This is quite an honor and is based on her reputation, commitment, and experience in this area. As you know, the current difficulties related to incarceration within juvenile justice system have been very prominent in the news recently. I am sure she will be invaluable in helping to resolve that very difficult issue.”

The GJJC serves as the state advisory group under the federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA) and the juvenile crime enforcement coalition to administer the federal Juvenile Accountability Block Grant (JABG). The federal funds Wisconsin receives under the JJDPA and the JABG are statutorily required to be disbursed through the Commission. The Commission is a diverse and collaborative committee that distributes federal juvenile justice grant dollars and aids in the development of juvenile justice policy. Over the last year, GJJC addressed key factors leading to delinquency—truancy, substance abuse and mental health problems—and have continued a commitment to reducing racial disparity in the juvenile justice system and promoting juvenile justice system improvement.

One of the major issues facing the Commission is the future of Wisconsin’s secure juvenile detention facilities at Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake. The Commission will be convening at Lincoln Hills to begin assessing the issues related to that institution, the juvenile detention alternative initiative, disproportionate minority contact, and other systemic issues affecting the juvenile justice system.

Priorities of the Commission have been:

1. Addressing disproportionate minority contact in the juvenile justice system
2. Maintaining compliance with the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act
3. Supporting programs that address mental health and substance abuse issues among juvenile offenders
4. Promoting juvenile justice system improvement by providing local units of government the opportunity to adopt evidence-based programs and practices (this relates to diversion out of the system, HHS involvement versus criminal justice)

Congratulations, Erika and thank you for your commitment to juvenile justice in Wisconsin.

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