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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Milwaukee County House (In Need) Of Corrections

by capper

Last August, a full seven months ago, I wrote about the House of Correction, and the troubles that were occurring there. Most of these problems stemmed from the simple fact that HOC was overfull with inmates and that there was a severe shortage of correction officers. This caused a lot of burn out, and mistakes were made, repeatedly. Correction Officers were getting so desperate for time off, that they would use and abuse the sick leave and Family Medical Leave Policies. They would also openly defy superior officers in order to get suspended. They eventually went, as a group, to the County Board. Most of the County Board Supervisors weren't aware of what was going on, and were moved to tears to hear of the officer's desperation.

Yet Walker was in complete denial about it.

Now the Journal Sentinel is reporting that a county audit shows--gasp--that there were a lot of problems due to too many inmates and not enough guards. This comes on the heels of a federal audit showing a laundry list chock full of problems, most of them dealing with insufficient staffing patterns and not enough resources.

The county audit shows that HOC was originally supposed to have been authorized for 349 guards in Walker's 2007 budget. He then remembered his one trick pony act, and decided to cut $1.5 million dollars from their budget. HOC ended up with only 318 correction officers. Due to this deficit in the work force, officers were forced to work up to 800+ hours of overtime, each, that year. A full 75% of that was forced overtime.

The cost for all that overtime was $4.2 million. That means for every dollar that Walker tried to save the tax payer, that same taxpayer ended up paying three times as much. How is that being fiscally responsible?

The audit goes on to recommend that the County hire on an additional 23 officers. This would cost $1.3 million, but would have more than half off set by the savings in overtime benefits.

Walker's response is not to hire all of the staff needed. Gotta save that money, you know. Well, not really. He is considering giving them a pay raise. (On a side note, while this is a good thing, odds are that Milwaukee County Corrections Officers pay will be still be way behind that of other counties across the state.)

So Walker tries to find ways to sweep this under the rug, and again avoid responsibility for a mess he has created, I would point out that not only does Senator Taylor have experience as a successful businessperson, she is the Chairperson for the State Senate's Committee on Judiciary, Corrections, and Housing. She has the experience, the knowledge, the education, and the willingness to fix what Walker has wrecked. For more information, please go to her website.

SIDENOTE: Some Walker apologists have started to say that MSJ is anti-Walker. This is laughable. MSJ recommend Walker in 2004. But if that is not sufficient evidence, compare the articles that appeared on Monday's Newswatch and the article that appears in Tuesday's paper.
Especially the headline of Tuesday's article, which reads:

Lockup criticized for forced overtime

Audit finds House of Correction staff exhausted

Not only does it not mention the staff shortage, but the lockup that is supposedly criticized doesn't even appear until the second from last paragraph. Nope. No bias here in favor of Walker. Give me a break.

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