Fact Check: Wisconsin Counties Association Memo on Criminal Justice Reform

October 5, 2015

Click here for a PDF copy of this fact check.

The Wisconsin Counties Association recently sent a memo to all legislators outlining their opposition to Senate Bill 280, the 17-year-olds criminal justice reform bill. In our continuing efforts to ensure an honest and vigorous debate, the MacIver Institute would like to share with the public the latest information on this important issue.

1. Arrests Have Decreased

For the last several years, arrests in every age group have fallen in Wisconsin. The amount of juvenile arrests fell by more than half from 2006 to 2014 – from 81,821 to 35,127.

When looking at 17-year-olds, 28,062 were arrested in 2006 compared to just 12,838 in 2014 – a drop of 54 percent.

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2. Funding to Counties Has Increased

Despite the dramatic fall in juvenile arrests, the amount that counties received in Youth Aids Funds rose overall by more than $2 million from $88 million in 2006 to $90 million in 2014.

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3. Counties Receive 47 Percent More Per Arrest

Given the smaller number of juveniles being arrested and the increased funding to counties, the amount of money that counties receive per juvenile arrest has increased 47 percent since 2009.

The counties argue that they deserve more state aid to deal with this change, but the data does not support their argument. Despite a precipitous drop in juvenile arrests, youth aid funding from the state has actually increased in recent years.

For additional background information, please see our recent report titled: Mandatory Sentencing 17-year-olds in Adult Court – Is There a Better Alternative for Wisconsin’s Youth and Taxpayers?