The battling letters bout between County Executive Scott Walker and Chief Circuit Judge Kitty Brennan continued last week, with Brennan winning on points.
If you remember round 1, Walker wrote to Brennan to suggest that judges be careful of whom they sentence to work release. Brennan wrote back, in a bit of an over-reach, that Walker was asking judges not to sentence anyone to work release. She correctly pointed out, though, that work release options were a matter of law and it is up the Walker administration to provide a safe and secure location for inmates to be held when they're not working.
On to round two. Walker wrote to Brennan again last week, repeating much of what he said in his first go-round, and using a illustrative case to drum up more support for his proposal to close the downtown work release center and put the inmates on GPS tracking. The exec wrote:
The individual who walked away from his work release last month was serving two Huber sentences -- one for felon in possession of a firearm and one for jumping bail. Review of this case raised a concern that others like this individual might be sentenced to work release.
Brennan, in her response, first expressed impatience with the letter-writing contest. "I don't see what purpose these letters back and forth serve," she wrote. "But because you have written to me again and copied all 47 judges and the CJC (Criminal Justice Council) Executive Committee I must again respond in writing."
She said the walk-away inmate cited by Walker, Corey McElroy, didn't have a job and shouldn't have been in the downtown work release center in the first place. The decision to put him there was made by Walker's people at the House of Correction.
Your HOC staff moved him to the work release center and staff gave him "work detail" in the county jail. Your staff was transporting him across the street from the work release center to the jail when he walked away. No GPS would have prevented a walk-away from 'work detail." Presumably your staff should have prevented it.
GPS may or may not be a good alternative for work release inmates, Brennan wrote.
I've already expressed my opinion that a GPS program will only be safe if there is sufficient law enforcement monitoring of offenders and strict enforcement of violations. I do not see adequate monitoring and enforcement staffing levels or jail beds addressed un your current GPS proposal...
I hope in the future we can talk personally about these issues, rather than exchanging letters.
Round to Brennan. Fighters to your corners. Round three coming up.