In Wisconsin, there has been increased interest regarding alternatives to incarceration and diversion of individuals from the criminal justice system into treatment and other appropriate services to meet their assessed needs. Much of this momentum has been focused on problem-solving (or treatment) courts, which have an established model and have increased rapidly in Wisconsin in recent years. However, there has also been an increased interest in and expansion of other types of diversion programs.
The overall expansion can largely be attributed to the expansion of the state-funded Treatment Alternatives and Diversion (TAD) program. TAD has undergone numerous expansions in funding and has increased from originally funding 9 counties (through 2013) to funding 53 counties and three tribes for calendar year 2021. Another factor in the expansion of diversion options and models is Wisconsin’s participation in the National Institute of Corrections’ Evidence-Based Decision Making Initiative, which emphasizes a system-wide planning approach and the use of research to inform decisions at all levels of the criminal justice system.
In recent years, there have been many advances in providing guidance to problem-solving (or treatment) courts, both at the national and state level. In 2013, the National Association of Drug Court Professionals (NADCP) published their Adult Drug Court Best Practice Standards, Volume I (Volume II has since been released). In April 2014, the Wisconsin Association of Treatment Court Professionals followed suit with the publication of the Wisconsin Treatment Court Standards. Since these Standards were developed, numerous national and statewide trainings and other resources have been developed to help guide problem-solving court planning and implementation in Wisconsin.
To date, however, these types of resources and standards have been unavailable to other types of diversion models in Wisconsin. As the TAD program continues to expand, more counties receive funding to implement programs, and more counties work on reviewing their criminal justice system to implement programming through the EBDM Initiative. Within this initiative, there is an increased need to provide a similar set of standards and resources for diversion programs to encourage effective implementation, based on the current research.
These Wisconsin Diversion Standards were reviewed by the TAD Subcommittee and forwarded for approval by the State Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC), which unanimously approved them on June 9, 2021. These Standards are another resource for Wisconsin programs as it continues to lead in the area of statewide diversion programming.
The Diversion Standards can be accessed here.