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Acting Dane County Executive Miles names new Office of Criminal Justice Reform director

By: WISCONSIN LAW JOURNAL STAFF//May 29, 2024//

Acting Dane County Executive Miles names new Office of Criminal Justice Reform director

By: WISCONSIN LAW JOURNAL STAFF//May 29, 2024//

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On May 23, acting Dane County Executive Patrick Miles announced that he has selected Colleen Clark Bernhardt to lead the new Office of Criminal Justice Reform (OCJR).

“I am excited to announce that Colleen Clark Bernhardt will be leading the new Office of Criminal Justice Reform for Dane County,” Miles stated.

“She brings years of experience of leading criminal justice reform and system change to the table. Her longtime connections and trust with critical stakeholders and partners are an invaluable resource as we implement reform,” Miles added.

Clark Bernhardt is the current Policy and Practice Innovations Manager for the Dane County Board where she oversees daily operations and supervises the staff of the Dane County Criminal Justice Council.

Prior to that, she was the Equity and Criminal Justice Council Coordinator for Dane County.

A contract for the positions requires County Board approval. Upon approval, Clark Bernhardt will begin her new role July 21, 2024.

The OCJR was created in the 2023 Dane County Budget to elevate justice reform to a department-level priority. Doing this gives policymakers access to more resources and expertise to coordinate and operationalize reform initiatives. The new office will consist of a Director, a Community Court Coordinator, and two existing staff who assist with research and data evaluation.

In November of 2022, Dane County accepted a U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance grant award to start a Community Court. Bernhardt will immediately begin implementing the four-year grant of $596,149 from the U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance to launch the new Dane County Community Court.

“I am excited to begin this new chapter with the influence, knowledge, and intention of community leaders, elected officials, and those with lived experience,” said Bernhardt.

“I am optimistic that, together, we can make transformational justice improvements using collaboration, data driven decisions, and innovation. Thank you to all those who have helped me learn along the way — your voice will help shape this new department,” Bernhardt added.

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