Graham Kilmer
MKE County

Board Will Consider Probe of Jail Policies, Practices

Sup. Felesia Martin authors resolution making huge information request from jail.

By - Apr 29th, 2023 04:12 pm
Milwaukee County Jail and Milwaukee County Courthouse. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Milwaukee County Jail and Milwaukee County Courthouse. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Beginning in late 2022, after the second suicide in less than six months at the Milwaukee County Jail, a pair of county supervisors began calling for an audit of the facility’s policies, specifically those related to suicide prevention.

In March, supervisors Felesia Martin and Ryan Clancy released a statement saying legislation to that end was forthcoming, explaining that their resolution would, “investigate the jail’s policies surrounding suicide prevention and monitoring, the reporting of incidents to families of the deceased, the use of solitary confinement, and staffing levels for medical, correction and mental health employees, among other issues.”

That resolution has since been authored and has picked up co-sponsorship from Sup. Priscilla Coggs-Jones, Steven Shea and Juan Miguel Martinez.

While not an audit, the resolution formally requests a huge amount of information from the Milwaukee County Sheriff‘s Office, probing everything from organizational structure to decision-making processes for the release of bodycam footage and disciplinary information. The goal of the resolution is to “establish a foundation of understanding to inform future policy decisions and studies.”

The resolution addresses why supervisors did not ultimately pursue a formal audit, explaining that the timeline of “at least a year, if not more” required to comply with standards and reporting conflicted with “the desired timeline to inform policy and decision making.”

Martin, told Urban Milwaukee in a statement, “Transparency is key to building trust between law enforcement and the community they serve. We cannot turn a blind eye to any loss of life in our County facilities. Even one death is one too many. By requesting this information, we hope to ensure that the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office and the jail are held accountable and are committed to providing the highest level of care and safety to those in their custody.”

The county jail is already under third-party monitoring for its healthcare provision and population levels. This is the result of a court-ordered consent decree issued as part of a resolution to a lawsuit filed against the county in the 1990s for inhumane treatment and constitutional violations.

Reports to the monitor, and from the jail’s healthcare provider are part of the request. As is a plan to help the board and the public understand the jail’s internal policies and documentation, the organizational and monitoring structure for the facility, a detailed report on the MCSO budget and a detailed report on healthcare provision within the jail. One section of requests also asks for “legal requirements” and “decisionmaking processes” around the disclosure of video and disciplinary investigations both internal and external.

Martin’s resolution requests the sheriff to compile the information and reports, with guidance from the county’s attorneys, “due to legal privileges and confidentiality necessities,” and present it to the board by July.

This request from the supervisors comes after four deaths at the jail in less than 12 months. Three of these deaths have been reported as apparent suicides. Recently, a correctional officer was charged with a felony for falsifying a record after failing to perform a safety check on Octaviano Juarez-Corro, one of the three alleged suicides in the past year.

Read the full resolution.

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One thought on “MKE County: Board Will Consider Probe of Jail Policies, Practices”

  1. BigRed81 says:

    Our MKE Board continues to represent ‘We the People’. Keep up the good work.

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