Implementing a Community Court Model in Milwaukee, Wisconsin

The City of Milwaukee is considering whether implementing a community court model would be advantageous. Community courts are a type of specialized court that seek to address low-level criminal offenses. Instead of taking an obligatory punitive stance toward these offenses, community courts fulfill a problem-solving role, bringing people together to craft solutions to the problems that communities face. A community court model in Milwaukee could address issues like improving perceptions of public safety and reducing the disproportionate debt burden imposed on Black, Indigenous, and People of Color by the Municipal Court. This report, prepared for the City of Milwaukee, Office of the Mayor, examines the fundamental characteristics of a successful community court and offers recommendations for programmatic design and community engagement strategies. The findings of this report were informed by case study research, discussions with administrators of established community courts, stakeholder interviews with Milwaukee officials, and existing municipal court data.

Policy brief (pdf)


  • Authors: Brian Boland, Alex DeSena, Stephanie Mertens, Sukhvir Singh, Gabriel Terrell, and Amelia Wagner
  • Client: The City of Milwaukee Mayor’s Office
  • Course: Spring 2023 Workshop in Public Affairs, PA 869, taught by Sarah Halpern-Meekin

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