Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker has talked a lot about his desire to close the Community Correctional Center – Milwaukee’s Huber work release facility – and replace it with GPS monitoring for offenders who would have otherwise been housed at CCC. Walker’s touted his plan as being one that will save the County – and taxpayers – millions of dollars, but Sheriff David Clarke isn’t buying it. “If you are not going to do GPS right, I’m going to stand in the way of it,” Clarke said to the MJS. What I found most interesting was this passage from the article:
Clarke said in an interview that serious unanswered questions about the GPS system remain. To be done properly, inmates considered for GPS monitoring should be carefully pre-screened, he said. All violent and drug offenders should be excluded, Clarke said.
A successful monitoring program also should have frequent drug testing, he said. And the program needs extra law enforcement help to round up inmates who set off alarms for straying from approved travel routes to school or jobs.
All those things cost money that hasn’t been found yet, Clarke said.
That’s exactly the problem I’ve always had with Scott Walker’s plan to close CCC – the fact that it may not actually save much more money than keeping CCC open and fully staffed. Another concern of mine was also raised by Sheriff Clarke – that being the fact that offenders on GPS could still be committing new crimes while they’re being monitored, because a GPS bracelet won’t prevent someone from committing murder or dealing drugs.
Ultimately, any solution to the problems that have plagued CCC will come only after Scott Walker and Ron Malone, the Superintendent of the House of Corrections and CCC, finally admit that the problems at those two facilities aren’t simply a matter of lazy staff who don’t want to do their jobs properly. If I were running things at the HOC and CCC, my first course of action would be to change the entire culture and improve working conditions for staff, because staff who don’t like coming to work aren’t going to do their best while they’re at their jobs. There’s no denying there’s a lot of problems at the HOC and CCC, but those problems can most certainly be fixed – but only if management is willing to work collaboratively with the rank and file corrections staff to enact real changes that not only improve working conditions, but that also keep our communities safer.
GPS monitoring isn’t going to be a magic fix for what’s wrong with CCC, and if Scott Walker thinks it is, he’s fooling himself.