Graham Kilmer

27 COVID-19 Cases at House of Correction, All Inmates To Be Tested

Milwaukee County launches public dashboard tracking COVID-19 cases in three detention facilities.

By - Apr 17th, 2020 08:04 pm
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House of Correction sign.

House of Correction sign.

COVID-19 has spread further among the people incarcerated at the Milwaukee County House of Correction.

Right now the House of Correction has 27 inmates that have COVID-19. 26 are housed in the facility, and one is at home on electronic monitoring. The HOC has 623 inmates housed in the facility and 150 in the community on electronic monitoring. County officials said all inmates will be tested over the weekend with the assistance of the Wisconsin National Guard.

On top of the confirmed cases, the HOC has 17 inmates that are symptomatic, of that group six have tests pending.

There are also 23 HOC staff members that are self-quarantining. This is for a variety of reasons, such as a family member testing positive, traveling out of state, having an underlying health condition putting them at risk or because they are experiencing symptoms. Nine have presumptive positive cases of COVID-19.

Milwaukee County launched a new webpage Friday where the public can see updates on the number of people in the county’s custody that have tested positive or are symptomatic. The county houses inmates at three locations, long-term at the House of Correction in Franklin, short-term at the downtown jail and underage offenders at a youth detention facility.

There still have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the Milwaukee County Jail or the Juvenile Detention Facility. Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm said the HOC represents a greater challenge. “That is a much more congregate setting and you have a lot more people that come in and go out of that facility.”

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele addressed the spread at the HOC by likening the facility to a cruise ship, as both are “very confined spaces.”

The HOC has reacted to the spread by contracting with a private firm that comes in and sanitizes the entire facility once a day on top of existing sanitation procedures, superintendent Michael Hafemann said. They are issuing inmates a mask to wear every six days and are immediately quarantining any inmate that becomes symptomatic.

Like the HOC, the entire machinery of the justice system in Milwaukee County is reacting to the outbreak. Criminal courts have dropped from 23 to three. Jury trials are suspended, as are sentencing and bail review hearings.

Mary E. Triggiano, Chief Judge of the Milwaukee County Circuit Court, said various pieces of the local justice system, judges, the District Attorney’s office, public defenders and corrections leadership collaborated on ways to reduce the footprint at the courthouse and in the corrections facilities.

What they came up with, she said, was a set of criteria, “To look to see who could safely be released to the public.” Areas outlined in the criteria included low-risk inmates, those close to the end of their sentence, those with limited condition time left, women, older populations and those that might have significant mental health issues.

Under Triggiano’s order, a number of inmates meeting the criteria have been released. And two courts have been designated to perform bail reviews and look at cases “that might be ripe for release.”

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Categories: Health, Public Safety

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