Report: Illinois county jail inspections go unenforced

Last year, the Center’s Rory Linnane, Tegan Wendland and Kate Golden leafed through hundreds of pages of Wisconsin county jail inspections, examining the quality of mental health care. A new report from the Center’s collaborators at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign shows that state’s jail inspection system is also riddled with problems.

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Jailers get downgraded, fight back

Correctional workers in at least 10 counties have lost “protective” status in the past two years. Only workers with protective status may be considered public safety employees, which spares them from Act 10’s changes to collective bargaining and benefits.

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Lost signals, disconnected lives

Thirteen offenders told the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism that Wisconsin’s GPS tracking system repeatedly fails, registering false alerts and landing the offenders in jail although they had done nothing wrong. Meanwhile, Gov. Scott Walker is proposing an expansion of nearly 50 percent in the number of offenders monitored by GPS devices.

On July 31, 2012, James Morgan stands in his Madison bedroom with a Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism photographer. On several occasions, his GPS monitor begins flashing, indicating he is out of range, even though Morgan is well within boundaries determined by his parole agent. The Center spoke with a dozen offenders who said such issues as lost signals are landing them in jail repeatedly. Lukas Keapproth/Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

GPS problems and solutions

How can Wisconsin’s electronic monitoring using GPS devices be made more reliable and effective? Suggestions drawn from interviews with experts.

Inmate at La Crosse County jail

Ignored and underfunded, mental health care thin at county jails

Key findings:
• Wisconsin’s county-run jails are overloaded with people with mental illness — but services are largely inadequate.
• The state Department of Corrections is charged with oversight but does not evaluate the quality of jails’ mental health care.
• For nearly a quarter-century, the Legislature has required the DOC to collect and summarize annual reports on jails’ mental health care, but most jails have not provided the information, and the DOC acknowledges it has not been asking for them.
• One-third of Wisconsin’s jails have been cited for inadequate suicide prevention efforts.