Gretchen Schuldt
Court Watch

Clarke Evading State Law on Jail?

Tells court he’s not in charge of jail medical care; state law says he is.

By , Wisconsin Justice Initiative - May 26th, 2017 09:58 am
Sheriff David Clarke speaking at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

Sheriff David Clarke speaking at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland. Photo by Gage Skidmore.

Sheriff David Clarke testified that in a federal court lawsuit that he is not responsible for jail medical care.

“Do you have any responsibility with respect to the …(jail) infirmary?” attorney Arthur Loevy asked Clarke.

“No, sir,” Clarke responded.

Moments later the sheriff added: “We have a doctor, a medical doctor who is in charge of the — those medical areas. Not me. I don’t know anything about meds. I don’t know what I would be looking at. Oh yeah, there’s a bed, there’s this.”

Clarke’s testimony came during a deposition, taken in December 2015, that is part of a lawsuit filed against Clarke and Milwaukee County by a former jail inmate who alleges she was repeatedly sexually assaulted by Corrections Officer Xavier D. Thicklen and was shackled by deputies as she gave birth to a baby in a hospital. The suit is scheduled for trial next month.

The jail’s health care has come under recent scrutiny because of the deaths of four inmates over the period of several months and unfavorable reports on health care services provided by a private contractor, Armor Correctional Health Services.

“You say you are responsible,” Clarke said under questioning by Loevy, a lawyer representing the woman, identified in court documents as Jane Doe. “I’m not responsible for medical stuff; the doctor that I hire is.”

Clarke’s assertions that he is not responsible for medical care in the jail seems to directly contradict state law, which states that “If a prisoner needs medical or hospital care or is intoxicated or incapacitated by alcohol the sheriff, superintendent or other keeper of the jail or house of correction shall provide appropriate care or treatment. …” (§) 302.38 (1)

And for inmates held in the jail on behalf of the City of Milwaukee, “the sheriff or other keeper is legally responsible for any such prisoner’s confinement; maintenance; care, including medical and hospital care. …” (§) 302.336 (2)

“I’m not responsible for medical stuff…” Sheriff David Clarke

More from the deposition is below.

Loevy: And who does he (the doctor) report to, if anyone?

Clarke: I don’t know.

Loevy: Anyone —

Clarke: I don’t know how he could report —

Loevy: Anyone in the sheriff’s office?

Clarke: — to a lay person.

Loevy: Anyone in the sheriff’s office?

Clarke: Maybe Inspector Schmidt, but I don’t know. I don’t want a doctor reporting to me. I know nothing about medicine. Nothing. Why would he report to me? Why would he report to Inspector Schmidt? He has his responsibilities. There’s the code that he has to operate under. I don’t know who he reports to.

Loevy: You asked me a question. It is somewhat irregular. Maybe because he says there’s 50 people came to see me today, and I can’t accommodate them, Sheriff. What should I do?

Clarke: I would say that’s your problem, you figure it out.

Loevy: All right.

Clarke: Because now you are asking me who should be treated, who not? I’m not going there. Well, do these first and we’ll have these over here? No, I’m not doing that. He has to figure that out.

Loevy: Who makes the decision as to how many — how many hours the medical person should work?

Clarke: He does.

Loevy: So if he tells you I’m going to work two hours a week, okay with you?

Clarke: I don’t know. … He is responsible for the medical stuff.

Gretchen Schuldt writes a blog for Wisconsin Justice Initiative, whose mission is “To improve the quality of justice in Wisconsin by educating the public about legal issues and encouraging civic engagement in and debate about the judicial system and its operation.”

One thought on “Court Watch: Clarke Evading State Law on Jail?”

  1. A Bus Driver says:

    Behaving just like his mentor. Not responsible for anything. Why collect a check if you’re not responsible for anything that happens on the job you’re elected to do. Does he think because he spends more time doing everything but his job that he isn’t responsible. Sounds like Trump to me every one else but him.

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