Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Shame of Sheriff David Clarke and Milwaukee County

At least now someone is paying attention.

The up-to-$80 million the State Court of Appeals says Milwaukee County may have to pay because of the awful, inhumane way Sheriff David Clarke's staff treated inmates at the Milwaukee County is getting a lot more attention from major media than the actual awful, inhumane treatment did when it was exposed. (The county actually contended that the reason all this bad stuff happened is that a Sheriff's Department employee never moved the scroll bar at the bottom of his computer screen).

The potential penalties are front-page news today. News of the actual conditions under which inmates suffered ran back with the underwear ads. Now we know that potential monetary penalties levied because of 19th century incarceration practices are considered more important to the main players of the Fourth Estate than maltreatment of mostly poor, minority inmates under those same 19th century incarceration practices.

Totally unsurprising, totally discouraging.

By the way, for those who think it's OK to mistreat criminals: the jail is mostly a pre-adjudication detention facility, which means the vast, vast, vast majority of those subjected to Sheriff Clarke's incompetent, highly-injurious care hadn't been convicted of whatever had landed them in the hoosegow in the first place.

If you are interested in reading more about the jail case, it's here and here and includes links to many of the major documents filed in the case.


capper said...

My question/thought: Now that Clarke has been caught, again, in contempt of court, and that it will be now an expense to the taxpayers, which scenario is likelier: Clarke takes the full lumps this story will cause himself, or will he divert some of the outrage to the continuing budget fiascos created by Scott Walker?

Anonymous said...

An important point: the county's action was INTENTIONAL. These 16,000 violations weren't an accident, or a misunderstanding. Both the trial court and the appeals court - including normally conservative Judge Fine - are quite clear on that point.

So where does the buck stop? Sheriff Clarke? County Exec Walker - who supposedly ran for office on a fiscal responsibility platform? How about Walker pay some of the penalty from his campaign fund?

But, instead, of course, watch for them both to try to duck this and point fingers at anyone else.