Republicans in control of the Wisconsin State Assembly leaning to having private prisons house and manage the growing Department of Corrections prison population in the state.
By H. Nelson Goodson
Hispanic News Network U.S.A.
November 16, 2017
Madison, WI – The Wisconsin Republican controlled State Assembly leadership is contemplating whether to contract private prison corporations as an alternative to house and manage the growing prison inmate population in the state. On August 2017, the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (WIDOC) released a data report showing that the prison inmate population in the state totaled 23,124 as reported in the Prison Point-in-Time Populations: 2000-2016 data by the Office of the Secretary – Policy and Research Unit with the Division of Adult Institutions.
The Republican controlled legislature approved $600,000 in the Wisconsin State Budget to create a prison planning task force made up of members from both the State Assembly and Senate legislature to look into alternatives to house and manage the growing prison inmate population, which an option could be to contract a private prison corporation to house inmates. So far, three Assembly Republicans, State Representatives Michael Schraa (R-Oshkosh), the Corrections Committee Chairman; Mark Born (R-Beaver Dam) and David Steffen (R-Green Bay) and no Democrats have been selected for the prison task force panel (PTFP) by State Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and two State Senate Republicans, Van Wanggaard (R-Racine), Den Feyen (R-Fond du Lac) and one Democrat, LaTonya Johnson (D-Milwaukee) were selected by Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), also Governor Scott Walker (R) has yet to pick members to the task force panel.
State Representative Steffen who was selected by Rep. Vos to seat on the PTFP is pushing for the state to lease a private prison to replace the Green Bay Correctional Institution (GBCI), according to the Journal Sentinel. The GBCI has a capacity to hold 1,091 inmates and is a maximum security facility.
President Trump supports private prisons, which are very lucrative today and hold most of the undocumented inmate population in the U.S. for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Holding undocumented immigrants is a lucrative business for private corporation prisons and in Wisconsin, the State Assembly and State Senate Republicans have proposed SB 275/AB 190 known as the anti-Sanctuary City bills targeting the undocumented population, which would allow law enforcement to ask for legal status and turn over suspected undocumented immigrants to ICE.
According to a 2015 report by the Council on Hemispheric Affairs, Private Prison Corporations (PPC’s) earned $3B for holding ICE detainees. An estimated 34,000 of undocumented immigrants are incarcerated daily costing about $159 each to hold.
States do pay for most of the costs to hold undocumented detainees from their jurisdictions and the federal government reimburse the states about half.
The L.A. Times reported in 2015, that to hold ICE detainees in a private prison, it costs between $130 to $330 daily (per day) compared to being place under electronic monitoring bracelet for low risk detainees, which cost $5.00 daily ($155 per month). Electronic bracelet monitoring in some states is also done by BI Inc., a subsidiary of the second largest PPC in the country.
In Wisconsin, the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Office generated at least $6M in revenue in the lucrative business to hold ICE detainees. The Kenosha County jail holds 1,000 inmates.
The Dodge County Sheriff’s Office in WI also profits from holding ICE detainees for at least a week before they are transported back to the Chicago ICE detention facility for deportion.
In 2012, former Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke Jr. confirm that the County jail has been in an agreement for the last five years with the feds to hold illegal immigrants under the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program and the County was reinburse about $135,000 in 2009. In 2008, the county received at least $60,000 under the program, according to Sheriff Clarke Jr.
On Tuesday, the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Office confirmed that their application to join the 287g Memorandum of Agreement program in partnership with ICE to process undocumented immigrants at the County jail was approved and is awaiting final approval by the ICE director and Governor Walker. If the PTFP approves to contract a private prison coporation to house state WIDOC inmates in Green Bay, will it also open the door to house undocumented immigrants in Wisconsin? Time will tell.
Stats on WIDOC inmate population:
Totaled WIDOC prison population is 23,124
Prison Population by Gender as of 12/31/2016
• Male – 21,665, 93.7%
• Female – 1,459, 6.3%
Prison Population by Race
• White – 12,357, 53.4%
• Black – 9,604, 41.5%
• American Indian/Alaska Native – 895, 3.9%
• Asian – 251, 1.1%
• Latino – 2,018, 8.7%
Adult Institutions operating in over capacity: Totaled 12, which three are maximum security and the rest are either minimum or medium security facilities.
Wisconsin Correction Centers running over capacity: Totaled 2, which are minimum security facilities.
Wisconsin Women’s Correctional System
Milwaukee Women’s Correctional Center operating inmate capacity is 100, but has 110 inmates (12/31/2016). Minimum Security facility
Robert E. Ellsworth Correctional Center operating inmate capacity is 408, but has 446 inmates (12/31/2016). Minimum Security facility
Taycheedah Correctional Institution operating inmate capacity is 752, but has 853 inmates (12/31/2016). Maximum Security facility