Jail Deaths Bring Empty Promises and Political Witch Hunt

MILWAUKEE (December 15, 2016) – The County Board today voted on a proposal calling for independent investigations into deaths that occur at the jail and the House of Corrections (HOC). But the County’s attorneys acknowledged that the proposal would only legally affect the HOC, not the jail, where there were four in-custody deaths in 2016. Supervisor Deanna Alexander provided the single vote against the misguided policy.

While a stream of politicians and public commenters chastised Sheriff David A. Clarke, Jr. as personally responsible for four allegedly preventable county jail deaths, Supervisor Alexander spoke out against the premature blanket judgements.

“People are looking for an easy target to judge, and it’s been rigged from the start as a political witch hunt to go after Clarke,” she said.

“The public wants a better system, not empty bloviating on citizen deaths in county facilities. How dare the whole conversation be an attack on the Sheriff and the jail, only to pass a policy that won’t make an ounce of difference at that facility? This is just political posturing, smoke, and mirrors,” said Alexander.

Alexander noted that Sheriff Clarke has launched internal investigations on each of the in-custody jail deaths, that at least one of those investigations was referred by the Sheriff, himself, to the District Attorney for review and consideration of criminal charges, and that the District Attorney retains the authority for independent oversight and external investigation on each of the remaining inmate deaths.

Alexander said that the Board’s true aim should be on Armor, the contractor that is supposed to provide medical services and take responsibility for the health needs of jailed inmates. The Armor contract is currently up for renewal and the County Board does not have the authority to stop the renewal, which is in the hands of the HOC Superintendent and the County’s attorneys.