County Executive Scott Walker didn't tell judges not to sentence anyone to work release, as Chief Judge Kitty Brennan said in a letter this week -- he just told them not to sentence anyone to work release who "presents a reasonable risk to the safety of the public. "
Walker did not define what he considers a "reasonable risk," and the category could be fairly narrow or exceptionally broad. Brennan obviously took it to be as broad as it possibly could be.
Here is the body of the letter Walker sent to circuit judges:
As you know, there is a great deal of discussion about the future of Huber work release. The members of a standing committee of the Community Justice Council (CJC) are currently reviewing a recommendation that was included in the 2008 county budget. The panel will make a recommendation to the CJC. Once that recommendation is made, we will review it with the Milwaukee County Board.
Until such a transition is made, I ask that you carefully consider who you sentence to work release in Milwaukee County. Unlike the proposed system, work release under the system we inherited is not designed to directly monitor individuals during the time they are at work. With that in mind, I ask that you not sentence anyone to work release who presents a reasonable risk to the safety of the public.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter.
Gee, Scott, what do you think judges are doing now? Deliberately giving the most dangerous felons work-release sentences?
Walker's missive seems to be mostly a butt-covering move, a statement that "If anything goes wrong with the facility I didn't even try to fix, I'm going to blame judges for sending the wrong people there."
Brennan is absolutely right when she said that Walker's administration is responsible for providing a safe and secure work release facility. It has failed to do so. For Walker to blame the Community Correctional Center's shortcomings on a system he "inherited" is ridiculous.
Walker's been in office since 2002, for heaven's sake! Is he honestly saying there is nothing his administration could have done in the six years since to make things better, or at least to ensure they didn't get so much worse?