Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Musings.... Avery... the resignation of Ed Wall... Lincoln Hills...

Between the Steven Avery hoopla and the Lincoln Hills fiasco in the Department of Corrections of Wisconsin, there has been a lot of spotlights on the DOC, law enforcement and those that work for those entities.  They have over crowding of 130% in most if not all prisons.  They have an astounding employee vacancy rates as well.  There are morale issues amongst the correctional officers and many others that work in the corrections system here in Wisconsin.  They all seem to have one thing in common, they blame Governor Walker's Act 10 in 2011 for all of it.  Is this chain of events all a result of Act 10?  Unlikely, problems like this are not brought about by one piece of legislation, consider Act 10 the chocolate glaze that went over the top of an already broken and struggling system that wasn't serving anyone, the offenders, the staff and most of all the tax paying public.

Lincoln Hills was little more than a storage facility for juveniles until they could be let loose again on the public, re-offend, and then land in adult prison.  With a 65% recidivism rate for youths being released from Lincoln Hills, what else can someone conclude from the information, other than the state was in the business of grooming criminals?  So then the question must be asked, what are they doing to give a child less than a 50% chance of making something of themselves, rather than choosing a life of crime, prison and persecution?

Then there is the grandstanding, Milwaukee County looking to try to help by pulling out some of the juveniles out of Lincoln Hills and reopening a facility that was closed. While it is better to keep the child inmates closer to their families and the support they provide, because it is common knowledge that a good support system is a large factor in rehabilitation.  If the action harms more children than it helps by causing other problems in other facilities because of the actions of one county, then other options must be considered. Such as Multiple juvenile facilities in different regions of the state, so that youthful offenders can be housed as close to their homes as possible. Maybe instead of razor wire and fencing for all, in depth evaluations could be done during intake and children placed appropriately for their individual circumstances.  That means that those facilities should have no more than 20 inmates per facility.  If run properly and without staff-on-inmate abuse, it would help kids develop in to good people, rather than tossed back out on the streets to offend again, this time landing in adult prison, with an adult conviction.  Instead I hear nothing about the rehabilitation of these youth offenders with a 65% recidivism rate, do they help them at all?

Then from beneath the fray of all the controversial headlines, the Secretary of Corrections resigns, it begs the questions, what did Ed Wall know and when did he know it.  Will an Open Records request reveal that he knew what was happening in Lincoln Hills and turned a blind eye?  Or could it show that he knew nothing and it was being kept from him?  We don't know now and probably never really know how or why the raid took place and the FBI came in and took over.  Is it a reflection of the whole corrections system here in Wisconsin?  Are there more (uncharged) offenders guarding our inmates, protecting them from themselves and protecting the communities from them, when the real people to be feared are those put in charge?  If there are abuses in the juvenile system, what is going on in the adult system?  With the kind of overcrowding that is talked about in the media, coupled with the large amount of employment vacancies in the correctional officers teams, what is happening in our Wisconsin prisons?

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