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.
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.
In response to a Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism report, Rep. Garey Bies, R-Sister Bay, called a hearing to question Wisconsin Department of Corrections officials about the reliability of GPS monitoring of offenders.
From January 2011 to November 2012, Aaron Hicks was arrested at least 12 times for parole violations related to his GPS monitor, spending 74 days in jail, records show.
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.
How can Wisconsin’s electronic monitoring using GPS devices be made more reliable and effective? Suggestions drawn from interviews with experts.
• 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.
Gov. Jim Doyle and his staff submitted receipts 70 percent of the time in 2007 and 2008 for travel expenses reviewed by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, newly released records show, and not 28 percent of the time as the newspaper reported nine weeks ago.