PEOPLE-Local 645

  • Quality of Life Alliance

Walker’s Latest Budget Scheme: Rob Peter To Pay Paul

Posted by Chris Liebenthal on January 20, 2010

Last week, Zach Wisniewski of Blogging Blue pointed out that Sheriff David Clarke was threatening to release inmates from the House of Correction and cutting highway patrols to cover a major hole that Scott Walker had but into the Sheriff’s budget. In other words, lowering public safety was the cost of Walker’s politically-driven budget.

In the comment thread of Zach’s post, a reader using the moniker of “The Rooster” made a keen observation (emphasis mine):

I frankly don’t think that releasing inmates will do anything to jeopardize saftey. Frankly, those inmates that are housed in the HOC are typically non-violent misdemeanor offenders who are serving less than 6 months. The key thing in this article is the closing of the programs that try to address substance abuse, vocational and educational issues. I think we all need to remember what the purpose of the criminal justice system is and that is to reduce crime. If the systems only solution is locking people up then we can only guarantee a reduction in crime while they are incarcerated which means that the only solution is to lock more people up, for longer periods of time. The loss of the programs that are trying to address the underlying issues relating to criminal behavior is huge blow to crime prevention.

What “The Rooster” stated is true. Cutting these programs will not do one blessed thing in reducing recidivism or lower the crime rate, per se. This is also supported by the statements made by Scott Walker as he desperately tries to do damage control, even though for him that is more like closing the barn door after the horses already got out.

But there are other costs to society and to the Milwaukee County tax payer besides what this reader had pointed out.

For one thing, there will be increased internal costs at the House of Correction. Without these programs, inmates will become restless and get into more fights. These altercations will, of course, result in people getting hurt, causing more and more overtime. Not to mention lawsuits and all that other annoying civil rights stuff.

The other costs will be transferred to other departments and then to the tax payer. For example, let us say that Clarke closes up the printing shop. Well, most of the other departments in the county rely on the printing shop to do their printing for everything from business cards to letterhead to envelopes. If the printing shop gets shut down, the other departments will be forced to go to the private sector to get their printing done. This will not only slow things down as bids are taken, contracts cut, etc., but will just plain cost much more than it would have if the HOC print shop had remained open and had done the work.

Similar problems would occur if Walker and Clarke try to cut other work programs, like the farm, the laundry or the kitchen. It would only serve to raise internal costs as well as the costs of other county departments that also rely on the services performed by these programs.

Cutting extracurricular things like religious services or recreation would save very little money. Furthermore, what little money that it might have saved would be lost to the lawsuits and fines for violating basic rights that even inmates are allowed and again for the increase outbreaks of violence and other problems.

But no matter what solution that Walker and Clarke agree upon for filling the hole that Walker created, you can bet that it will end up coming from other departments, increasing their fiscal emergencies. Just like robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Either way, it is the citizens of Milwaukee County that will end up footing the bill as Walker continues his perpetual and eternally-unsuccessful run for governor.

And isn’t Walker’s reckless behavior the sort of thing that the right side was so upset with Governor Doyle for doing?

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