Saturday, November 10, 2007

Update on Prisoners...

State prisons may use county jails

Steven Elbow — 11/08/2007 11:31 am

As Dane County pulls its inmates back from Winnebago and Sauk counties, the state Department of Corrections is hoping to use the newly available space to ease its own overcrowding problems.

The state is currently working with those counties, as well as Bayfield and Juneau counties, to use available beds as part of its ongoing effort to house a growing prison population.

Dane County currently pays Sauk and Winnebago counties about $1 million a year each to house a total of about 120 inmates a day. But Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney plans to bring those inmates home early next year as measures to open up beds at the Dane County Jail go into place.

The stakes on both sides are high: The state Department of Corrections is operating with 5,000 inmates more than it has space for, and counties say they need the revenue that housing state inmates can provide.

The state is still dealing with the result of its decision to bring 5,000 prisoners who were being housed in other states back to Wisconsin. The last were brought home in May 2005.

The Department of Corrections already houses about 600 inmates in 15 county lockups, paying the counties $51.46 per inmate per day. The recently passed state budget allows for 1,242 county jail beds for state prisoners.

Winnebago County Sheriff Michael Brooks said profits from the deal should bring the county about $30 a day per inmate, but he and the state have yet to reach a solid agreement.

Brooks added, however, that the growth of his own jail population is likely to cut into the profits by taking away rentable beds.



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