Our Crowded Prisons

County Jails Handle State Prison Overflow

But they’re “bordeline inhumane,” worse than state prisons, some say.

By , Wisconsin Justice Initiative - Feb 20th, 2018 01:45 pm
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Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

More than 400 inmates serving state prison sentences pass their time in county jails each day.

Those inmates have little programming and little to do except mingle with an ever-changing cast of pre-trial detainees of all security levels.

The jails profit nicely from the arrangement – the state pays them $51.50 per day per inmate –  to house the state’s overflow.

County jail time is “abysmal,” according to Daniel Monge, who spent nine months of his state prison sentence in jail.

“County jail time is tough – it’s really tough,” he said.

“If push comes to shove and you have to do one or the other, my vote actually is to build a new prison because serving time in a county jail is no joke,” he said. “It’s extremely rough, it’s extremely awful, it’s borderline inhumane.”

Monge was a panelist at the recent “Inmate 501” presentation by State Rep. Evan Goyke at Turner Hall. Below is a video of Monge; former inmate James Cross; and Goyke talking about state jail time. (There is more video from the event, sponsored by Milwaukee Turners and the Confronting Mass Incarceration work group, posted on the WJI Facebook page.)

A list of participating jails follows the video.

Contracted facilities, including jails, holding state inmates serving state sentences. 

Contracted facilities, including jails, holding state inmates serving state sentences. Department of Corrections: Inmates Under Control Feb. 2, 2018.

Department of Corrections: Inmates Under Control Feb. 2, 2018.

This is the final installment in WJI’s “Our crowded Wisconsin prisons” series that details the building repairs, upgrades, and new facilities the Department of Corrections requested as part of the 2017-19 state budget. You’ll find more of those stories here.

The great majority of the budget requests, including those for health facility improvements and adequate food preparation areas, were denied. Instead, Walker and the Legislature established a committee to study prison facility needs.

The Legislature and governor did approve spending $7 million to build a geriatric prison facility.  The authorization came as an amendment to Gov. Scott Walker‘s proposed budget, and it is not clear how many inmates the facility will serve or whether it will meet the Department of Corrections’ needs.

There were no requests submitted by the DOC for the facilities included in this last round-up. They are included to show how crowded facilities are and to serve as a reminder that action is needed to reduce the prison population, not just increase prison capacity.

Classification:  Medium security

Capital budget request: None

Department of Corrections: Inmates Under Control Feb. 2, 2018

Department of Corrections: Inmates Under Control Feb. 2, 2018

Classification:  Minimum security (center system)

Capital budget request: None

Department of Corrections: Inmates Under Control Feb. 2, 2018

Department of Corrections: Inmates Under Control Feb. 2, 2018

Institution: Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility

Classification:  Medium security

Capital budget request: None

Department of Corrections: Inmates Under Control Feb. 2, 2018

Department of Corrections: Inmates Under Control Feb. 2, 2018

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.

32 thoughts on “Our Crowded Prisons: County Jails Handle State Prison Overflow”

  1. Terry says:

    Wisconsin desperately needs criminal justice reform not more prisons! The state can’t afford its current prison industrial complex. Republicans must be drunk or on pills? They should sober up and listen to the strong bipartisan MAJORITY in the state for once and end cannabis Prohibition in Wisconsin, expunge all related records and create thousands more jobs than Walker’s FoxCON job ever will all without having to blow 4.5 BILLION dollars of taxpayer’s money to do it. Then release ALL nonviolent drug “offenders” and clear out a few cells for Walker, Trump all the other real crooks in.the state!

    Dump Walker 2018!
    Dump Vos 2018!
    Dump Trump 2018!
    Dump Ryan 2018!
    Dump Crazy Vukmir 2018!
    Dump Fitzgerald 2018!
    Dump ALL Republicans 2018!

  2. WashCoRepub says:

    …The Legislature and governor did approve spending $7 million to build a geriatric prison facility…” Excellent! Now build 10-12 more to reduce the overcrowding, and deliver humane conditions for the criminals and drug offenders that wreak havoc on neighborhoods. Drugs and crime are a truly lethal combination, as we see from the highest-crime areas in Milwaukee County. Isolate the criminal element and keep them away from the good folks trying to raise good families and hold down their jobs.

  3. John Casper says:

    WashCoRepub,

    In addition to incarcerating the wrong people–mostly young, non-violent addicts–“the United States represents about 4.4 percent of the world’s population, it houses around 22 percent of the world’s prisoners.”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_incarceration_rate

    Why aren’t the most dangerous criminals behind bars?

    Is it because the private prison industry prefers, young, non-violent offenders, because they are less costly?

  4. Terry says:

    @WashCoRepub, Just like I said, Republicans must be drunk or on pills. Your comment more than proves this. You and all Republican liars and charlatans like Walker, Fitzgerald, Vukmir who blame the meek and powerless for everything, who support urine testing the meek and powerless, who support throwing pretty much everyone except rich white people and drunks in jail, should ALL be drug tested before we allow you or them to mooch off of OUR money anymore. If they don’t agree, well what are they hiding?? Bunch of closeted dopers and drunkards!
    While you are creating your New Nazi Republican Police State WashCoRepub just remember to keep a few cells open for the real criminals creating havoc and mayhem in our society, that would be Trump, Walker and all the other Republicans who have weaseled and slimed their ways into power through lying cheating and stealing.

    Dump Walker 2018
    Dump ALL Republicans 2018
    Legalize cannabis instead

  5. “The jails profit nicely from the arrangement – the state pays them $51.50 per day per inmate – to house the state’s overflow.”

    Profit nicely? My gut instinct tells me it costs more that $51.50 per day to house an inmate. Does WJI have numbers on actual incarceration costs in state facilities vs county facilities?

  6. Terry says:

    @Ed, As of 2015 it costs Wisconsin taxpayers about 35k annually to incarcerate people in state prisons. I know because as of last record there were 81 people incarcerated for simple cannabis possession in Wisconsin (Yes, it’s hard to believe in the era of legal cannabis but in Career Politician Scott Walker’s Wisconsin the racist backwater state does in fact still lock nonviolent people up and ruin their lives over simple possession of a bag of weed, of course they are overwhelmingly young and African American) and if you do the math that works out to costing Wisconsin taxpayers $2,835,000.00 annually just to keep 81 nonviolent people in jail for simple cannabis possession, aka, having a bag of weed. No dealing, no guns, no violence, just having a bag of reefer. The state imposes 6 months in jail & a $1,000 fine for the first “offense” and 3.5 years in jail and a $10,000 fine for the second and they brand you a felon. Many lose their voting rights, gun rights, can’t get school loans, jobs or apartments as well for the rest of their lives. This is quite possibly the stupidest and most draconian law ever in the state and Republicans aren’t listening to the strong bipartisan majority in the state that demand the state start reforming its overladen and ecpensive prison industrial complex as well as its racist Jim Crow cannabis laws.

    http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2016/jul/08/rebecca-kleefisch/Kleefisch-per-inmate-cost-comparison/

    P.S.
    Dump Walker 2018
    Dump ALL Republicans in 2018

  7. Terry says:

    @Ed, As of 2015 it costs Wisconsin taxpayers about 35k annually to incarcerate people in state prisons. I know because as of last record there were 81 people incarcerated for simple cannabis possession in Wisconsin (Yes, it’s hard to believe in the era of legal cannabis but in Career Politician Scott Walker’s Wisconsin, the racist backwater state does in fact still lock nonviolent people up and ruin their lives over simple possession of a bag of weed, of course they are overwhelmingly young and African American) and if you do the math that works out to costing Wisconsin taxpayers $2,835,000.00 annually just to keep 81 nonviolent people in jail for simple cannabis possession, aka, having a bag of weed. No dealing, no guns, no violence, just having a bag of reefer. The state imposes 6 months in jail & a $1,000 fine for the first “offense” and 3.5 years in jail and a $10,000 fine for the second and they brand you a felon. Many lose their voting rights, gun rights, can’t get school loans, jobs or apartments as well for the rest of their lives. This is quite possibly the stupidest and most draconian law ever in the state and Republicans aren’t listening to the strong bipartisan majority in the state that demand the state start reforming its overladen and very expensive prison industrial complex as well as its racist Jim Crow cannabis laws.

    http://www.politifact.com/wisconsin/statements/2016/jul/08/rebecca-kleefisch/Kleefisch-per-inmate-cost-comparison/

    P.S.
    Dump Walker 2018
    Dump ALL Republicans in 2018

  8. Terry says:

    @WashCoRepug, We have already “isolated the criminal element.” They are currently residing in the Governor’s Mansion (thanks to out of state mega-rich campaign donors dark money) as well as maintaining a majority in the State Legislature (thanks to gerrymandering, rigging the elections and stealing people’s voting rights)
    How about you keep them and all the drunkards in the state from wreaking anymore havoc.

    Dump Walker 2018

  9. Troll says:

    I agree with Casper. Good points.

  10. Bill says:

    John Casper. There are no private prisons or jails in Wisconsin so your information is irrelevant to this situation. But while you sleep CCA rebranded itself into a behavioral health company. Google that, and let it sink it.

    Terry, You don’t get state time for “simple” possession. What else is going on that you didn’t mention? And why might someone be sitting in a county jail for possession? Also, jails or prisons do not profit from those that are incarcerated. Its the venders and the employees of those institutions that do.

  11. Jailor says:

    Recently a bill passed through legislation allowing State offenders nearing the end of their sentences (1year or less) the opportunity to exercise Huber work release. Assembly bill 345 provide a great opportunity for offenders to be moved to county jail facilities and begin entering the workforce prior to release.
    With this you alleviate some of the crowing in State facilities, Offenders being housed in county facilities are not restricted to housing units and can earn money in preparation for release and in doing so adds a layer of accountability to the offender to be sure they are ready to re enter the community.

    Herein lies the problem…..The Department of Adult Institutions (DAI) refuses to allow any of the State offenders to exercise the Huber privileges and therefore are sitting idle in county jails. This is an excellent re entry initiative that could ease the overpopulation and the of being housed in county jails.

    Why does our State correctional system refuse to move forward and be progressive. We don’t need new prisons we need new and innovative leaders to start approaching these issues outside of the archaic systems that are in place.

  12. They ALL work for the corps says:

    Terry must be high. He thinks only republicans are corrupt! Ha ha Terry! Try the red pill!

  13. Tim says:

    https://urbanmilwaukee.com/2017/05/08/the-state-of-politics-will-wisconsin-use-private-prisons/

    “Between 1998 and 2005, Wisconsin inmates were housed in for-profit prisons in Tennessee, Oklahoma, Minnesota, Mississippi and Georgia, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.”

    The private prison industry is coming back for their cut of the pie because of THOSE PEOPLE!

  14. Rita says:

    There are no easy answers. Invalid arguments from pot fans are naive, self-serving and very limited in the entire scope of the problems of addiction and abuse. We’ve tried it all except legalizing all drugs and allowing every addict all they want to use and/or all the treatment they will pursue. Well, we do that with alcohol and guess what happens? There are just as many or more people incarcerated over alcohol involved violent offenses than drug involved offenses. People that just need to abstain from alcohol use spend years in prisons and jails as mostly model prisoners after they hurt or kill someone. If only they didn’t drive or have volatile relationships or own guns or took proper care of their children or didn’t commit sex offenses…..see the problem? We cannot control people’s behaviors, and that includes their use of substances. Anyone who has ever tried to stop even one alcoholic or addict they care about from using has an inkling of how hard it is to control many thousands of them who don’t give a damn what you think. Addiction is not a political issue. There is no cure in laws and all the treatment money in the world cannot fix this. So, sadly and reluctantly, but also with a sigh of relief, we lock this misery away so it cannot touch others for a while. I hope the libraries in prison are better than the ones in county jails. All deserve to be treated humanely and given opportunities to learn about themselves and the world as best as one can in a confined space.

  15. Terry says:

    @Bill, 100% WRONG!! Since the article is about BOTH state prison and county jails it doesn’t really matter where these nonviolent people are locked up for simple marijuana possession. That means, as I said before, no violence, no selling, no guns nothing else. You can play semantics all you want but to 80 poor people sitting in a cage, whether it be in an overflowing state prison or an overflowing county jail, it doesn’t really matter AT ALL. The point is, they are locked up for a bag of weed! Your ignorance illuminates a very, very common misperception in Wisconsin however, that being that the state doesn’t still lock people up for simple possession, however, as hard as it is to believe for mpst people, that is 100% INCORRECT. A simple google search is advised next time! Here ya go. I’ll do your work for you.

    http://www.newsweek.com/marijuana-wisconsin-weed-laws-legal-states-618395

    https://www.aclu.org/blog/mass-incarceration/what-if-wisconsin-arrested-half-many-people-marijuana-possession

    https://www.reddinsinger.com/the-basics-of-wisconsin-marijuana-laws.html

  16. Terry says:

    @They all work for the corp, 100% WRONG! What I do think, well actually KNOW, is that Republicans are in complete and total control in Wisconsin (thanks to gerrymandering and unlimited Dark Money) and have been for a very, very long time now thus THEY are the ones we must hold accountable. Get it now??
    Your moral equivalency is sad and disturbing to say the least. Educate yourself before commenting.

    Dump Walker 2018

  17. Terry says:

    P.S.
    @They all work for the corp, You must be drunk. You think democrats are still in power in Wisconsin. Ha, ha, time to sober up!

  18. Caligula says:

    “In 2016, 80 people were arrested on marijuana possession charges in Wisconsin, and their imprisonment cost the state $32,000 per inmate, Jarchow said, noting that “a couple of joints could land you in jail or prison” but people aren’t subjected to jail time for first-offense drunk driving.”
    Of course not. Not in Wisconsin, land of the drunks and chronic alcoholics.

  19. Terry says:

    @Rita, wrong, these are not “invalid” comments nor do I appreciate your dismissive tone or intimation that my comments are somehow “self serving?” Not true! Do you have any facts to back up your specious lies or anything else you said or are you just talking outta your …?

    Roughly 600,000 people are not arrested annually in the USA for simple alcohol possession, but they are for cannabis, costing taxpayers millions and and millions and many of these nonviolent otherwise law abiding constructive people have had their lives ruined in a myriad of ways, not by cannabis itself but by the failed prohibition of it! Republicans in Wisconsin are not listening to the majority of people when we say we want this reefer madness ended in the state nor when we say we want criminal justice reform, not more laws or more prisons! Perhaps they will listen after they are swept out of office in November by a big blue wave? Perhaps they will listen when we go even more broke from locking up our own people for stupid archaic and unwanted laws. The facts remain, there is simply no comparison between the mass carnage caused by hard drugs like cocaine, meth, heroin, opioids and alcohol much less tobacco vs cannabis. Cannabis Prohibition is far more deleterious to the individual and society than cannabis itself ever was or ever will be. Think the sky is falling in Seattle, Denver, San Francisco, L.A., Las Vegas, Boston, Anchorage, Portland etc…? Think again!

    I apologize for my enthusiam and I didn’t mean to bumrush the comment section with this topic but being from Seattle I have seen both sides of the prohibition issue firsthand and seen the many benefits of ending prohibition after years of seeing many good people’s lives literally ruined by a marijuana conviction. I have yet to see anyone’s life ruined by marijuana itself. Alcohol, yes. Hard drugs, yes. Reefer? No. Just the opposite thanks to sensible medical and adult use laws. This one subject is just scratching the surface of criminal justice reform or drug/alcohol issues in our society but it is a very important and a much needed starting point. Republicans are not listening. They should start before the November 2018 mid terms or they will all need new “jobs.”

  20. Bill says:

    Terri, show us the cases where simple possession brought jail time. I’m not interested in articles that claim this. I want the cases. In every case of a little bag of weed bringing jail time that I have researched, there is more to the story. Like the “little bag” was over a 1/4 pound. Or is was the 5th offense. Or there are unpaid traffic tickets, or something else. A little bag of weed, on the first offense is almost always ROR’d or bonded out. So tell us the rest of thee story. What else is going on?

    The article is about the state, so citing national stats is largely unimportant. And if you were at the Inmate 501 presentation at the Capital you would have heard that the largest uptick in the jail population expected in 2018 is due to alchohol related charges. So Rita is not that far off. And thinking that legalizing marijuana will somehow cure the overcrowding is a bit nieve. I agree that it will have positive impact. But jail overcrowding is a bit more complicated than you are making it.

  21. Terry says:

    @Bill, I can’t hold your hand forever. Time to put on your big boy pants and educate yourself. Do you have any links or facts? Didn’t think so! I sent you the links already but if you want specific names and case #’s for the 80 people locked up for possession feel free to research it yourself, contact the Dept. of Corrections and get back to us. Probably not their first time but who knows and it shouldn’t matter. Of course prison reform is far more complicated than ending prohibition I never implied it wasn’t, just the opposite, but glad we agree that it is a great place to start. Now I’m going skiing. It’s sunny, got fresh courderoy on the skate deck up here and the Birkebeiner is next weekend! Cheers!

    Dump Walker 2018

  22. Gretchen says:

    @Ed, Milwaukee County ran the numbers for their costs to house an inmate when the county was trying to figure out what to charge municipalities for holding municipal offenders. The House of Correction put it at $37.75 per day, and the County Jail put at it at $40.77 per day. Milwaukee County doesn’t take many state inmates, but its costs likely are very close or higher than jail costs in other counties (due to the larger population of more serious alleged offenders).

  23. WashCoRepub says:

    Wonderful news today out of the Assembly, with plans to build an additional full-size adult prison, and strengthen penalties for crimes such as carjacking! Once again, it takes a Republican majority to look out for hard-working, law-abiding citizens and keep the criminals locked up. This would also significantly reduce the overcrowding issues and lead to more humane conditions.

  24. Terry says:

    @WashCoRepub,

    How long before Walker and Trump move in??

    Probably after November sometime don’t ya think? Meditate on it. A big blue wave. A big cerulean blue November wave…

    Dump Walker
    Dump Trump
    Free Wisconsin!

  25. John Casper says:

    @Bill #10

    Since Wisconsin ships prisoners to private prisons in other states, “…your information is irrelevant….”

    “Throughout 1990s and early 2000s, with Walker at the helm of the assembly’s Committee on Corrections and the Courts, Wisconsin shipped around 5,000 inmates to Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Minnesota. Most of the prisoners, along with almost $45 million in Wisconsin taxpayer money, went to private prisons operated by one company: the Corrections Corporation of America.”

    https://www.thenation.com/article/how-scott-walker-built-career-sending-wisconsin-inmates-private-prisons/

    “But while you sleep,” Gov. Walker outsources Wisconsin jobs.

    “Google that, and let it sink it[sic].”

    Bill, you were wrong about this too. “Also, jails or prisons do not profit from those that are incarcerated. Its the venders and the employees of those institutions that do.”
    Prisoners count for a county’s census. That matters for federal grants.

  26. John Casper says:

    @ Jailor #11

    Thank you.

  27. John Casper says:

    @Rita #14

    Why are you supporting prison terms for addiction issues, which are frequently accompanied by mental illness?

    Could Medicare-for-All with a robust mental health/substance abuse component reduce prison populations?

  28. Bill says:

    Terri Why the insults? So far, I’m waiting for you to say something relevant to Inmate 501 Its impressive that you think there are 80 people locked up for simple possession. Even if true, its a drop in the bucket. How many old law inmates are being held and eligible for parole? How about “How many inmates could be released under compassionate release?

  29. Bill says:

    John, as you so eloquently point out, Wisconsin has not shipped inmates out of state for 12 years. I never said they didn’t. I said they are not. I’m well aware of the impact of prisoner gentrification. That’s hardly evidence to the claims that jails profit from inmates. Its more accurate to say that municipalities, counties and maybe the state gets funds based on overcrowding of prisons. Those communities benefit from the funds, no doubt. But since they are not directly sending people to prison, its a stretch to say they intentionally profit. But all that aside…….CCA has rebranded itself…..expanding into behavioral health. You might want to be aware of that.

  30. Bill says:

    @Bill #20.
    You’re not going to like this.
    https://www.grievelaw.com/MilwaukeeCriminalDefenseAttorneyBlog/WisconsinDrugLaws

    KJohn, so an article that talks of maximum penalties is proof of what exactly? O course it could happen. But does it?

  31. Bill says:

    John: Could Medicare-for-All with a robust mental health/substance abuse component reduce prison populations?

    Yes absolutely. That’s why CCA has rebranded itself to build treatment centers. Be carefull of what you ask for!l

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