Marquette Wire

Experts go “On the Issues” about childhood trauma

Experts spoke about Milwaukee County leading the charge in the country on understanding and educating members of the justice system on the effects of childhood trauma last Thursday at Marquette University Law School's Lubar Center.

Experts spoke about Milwaukee County leading the charge in the country on understanding and educating members of the justice system on the effects of childhood trauma last Thursday at Marquette University Law School's Lubar Center.

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Mary Triggiano, circuit deputy chief judge of Milwaukee County, and Deborah Denno, a law professor at Fordham University, discussed childhood trauma and its impacts on the criminal justice system Thursday, Nov. 15. The discussion was part of the “On the Issues” series hosted by Mike Gousha at Marquette University Law School’s Lubar Center.

“Childhood trauma consists of the traumatic event itself, which can range from any number of physical or sexual abuses as well as a how the individual experiences that event,” Denno said. “Brain scans often reveal frontal lobe damage, indicating that something in the brain might be connected to childhood trauma.”

Triggiano said Milwaukee County is leading the charge in the country on understanding and educating members of the justice system on the effects of childhood trauma.

“With the help of the MacArthur Foundation, we are able to train lawyers, the police department, as well as counseling services on the severity of childhood trauma and how to deal with such cases,” Triggiano said.  

According to The MacArthur Foundation website, the foundation supports reform in 40 states and aims to help accelerate a national juvenile justice reform movement to improve the lives of young people in trouble with the law while enhancing public safety and holding young offenders accountable for their actions.

Denno also said university President Michael Lovell’s vision for wellness in Milwaukee is equipping students with the resources necessary to understand and help individuals with trauma.  

“Dr. Deborah W. Denno and Judge Mary Triggiano are experts on trauma-informed care and the court system, which the Lubar Center felt would broaden the discussion of the issues and be of interest to the Marquette and Milwaukee communities,”Lynn Sheka, senior director of university communication, said in an email. 

Denno is the founding director of the Neuroscience and Law Center at Fordham University School of Law. Triggiano is co-chair of the Community Justice Council’s Safety and Justice Challenge Trauma Workgroup that is responsible for incorporating trauma-effective practices in the Milwaukee County Court system.

Sheka said the law school committed funding to support a civic journalism project focusing on the issues of childhood trauma and trauma-informed care about two years ago. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter John Schmid produced a series of special reports about the impacts of childhood trauma through a Marquette University Law School fellowship, underwritten by the school’s Sheldon B. Lubar Fund for Public Policy Research.

Yulonda Anderson, a member of the Milwaukee community, attended the talk. 

“The main question that Judge Triggiano and Professor Denno sparked for me was if our legislatures are being trained on the significance of childhood trauma,” Anderson said. “… How we can expand this research to have result on our courtrooms and sentencing.”

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About the Writer
Donna Sarkar, News Reporter

Donna Sarkar is a current junior at Marquette University, majoring in Journalism in the College of Communications and minoring in Psychology and Human...

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