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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Walker's Catch And Release Program

by capper

Walker has been really pushing his plan for closing the Community Correctional Center and putting the inmates housed there on GPS monitors. In fact, the last time he pushed for something this much, it was the first time he tried to do the pension loan program, which turned out would have been a sweetheart deal for a financial and political backer, Nick Hurtgen, who worked for Bear Stearns and who has since been indicted in federal court for kickback schemes.

Anyway, Walker really, really wants this GPS thing to go through. However, it might not go as easy as he would hope. His first obstacle will be Sheriff David Clarke. In today's MSJ, there is an article in which Clarke expresses some of his concerns about the feasibility of this program:

Clarke said in an interview that serious unanswered questions about the GPS system remain. To be done properly, inmates considered for GPS monitoring should be carefully pre-screened, he said. All violent and drug offenders should be excluded, Clarke said.

A successful monitoring program also should have frequent drug testing, he said. And the program needs extra law enforcement help to round up inmates who set off alarms for straying from approved travel routes to school or jobs.

All those things cost money that hasn't been found yet, Clarke said.

Many of the inmates now housed at the work-release center would likely not make good candidates for the GPS monitoring, he said. The county already has a policy of excluding inmates sentenced for drugs, assaults, burglary or illegal possession of a gun from a different type of electronic monitoring now in use.

Abruptly shutting down the work-release center could create crowding problems if many inmates were placed at the House of Correction, rather than released on GPS monitors. Clarke suggested adding beds at the House of Correction to accommodate them.

Clarke said even with around-the-clock electronic monitoring, the inmates still could be dealing drugs or involved in other illegal activity without setting off an alarm. That's partly why he hasn't used it for jail inmates awaiting trial, Clarke said.

These are all valid concerns and do need be addressed before the County bulls its way along with this program. It also echoes some of my earlier concerns.

I would also like to know how this lame-brain scheme falls into Walker's campaign theme of Safety, Affordability and Pride. His plan would cost more, make people in the community less safe, and doesn't really give us any bragging rights. (What? Is he thinking, "Come to Milwaukee and see our criminals up close and personal. But don't worry, they're wearing bracelets."?)

Meanwhile, County Board Chairman wants to have psychological evaluations for all the inmates before they are put on the GPS system. This is so unrealistic, due to time issues, manpower and costs that it is not even worth discussing.

It is rather scary to think that of all of the current County leaders, Clarke is currently making the most sense. That should make more people want to consider supporting Senator Lena Taylor, so that we can get out of this chaos.

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