The TJC Sites: La Crosse County, Wisconsin
La Crosse County is located on the Mississippi River in southwest Wisconsin and has a population of 113,000. The city of La Crosse accounts for most of the arrests and most of the service provision in the county. The La Crosse County Jail has a capacity of 211 and had an average daily population of 172 people in 2011. A jail addition opened in 2010 that added 58 beds focusing on direct supervision and jail programming linked to community-based programming. For inmates incarcerated for more than 15 days, 19 percent are sentenced, 48 percent are awaiting trial, 31 percent are holds by the Department of Corrections, and 2 percent are awaiting transport to prison or other reasons.
The La Crosse County Board of Supervisors has devoted resources to correctional programming, but it continuously seeks to improve services inside and outside of the jail using evidence-based practices. La Crosse joined the TJC Initiative to increase collaboration and communication with community partners, enhance its risk and needs assessment process to provide services to those who will benefit most from intervention, and improve data collection on reentry activities to determine if they affect recidivism. La Crosse County made substantial progress toward having risk and needs determine who received programming in jail and in the community; convened community partners who meet regularly to discuss reentry issues and has brought new resources to bear on meeting reentry challenges; increased the use of evidence-based interventions for the jail population; and improved data collection on this population.
La Crosse found that their collaboration with TJC developed new partnerships, strengthened existing ones, and created a team mentality across agencies; it also found that providing consistent services in the jail and the community helped alleviate the programming issues caused by the rapid turnover of inmates. According to Sheriff Steve Helgeson, La Crosse County continues to expand inmate services to provide a safer jail environment for staff and inmates, and a safer community upon their release.