The Wisconsin Department of Corrections has returned more than 1,000 prisoners held out-of-state to Wisconsin since December to keep inmates closer to their families, Gov. Jim Doyle said yesterday. Doyle has cut the number of out-of-state inmates by 75 percent, from 3,482, since taking office in January 2003. Doyle said he hopes to eliminate the practice of holding prisoners out of state by the summer of 2005.
Wisconsin started sending some inmates to county jails in Texas in 1996 to combat crowding in the state’s institutions. Later, the state signed contracts to hold inmates in private-sector prisons that the Corrections Corporation of America operates in several states. New prisons that Wisconsin recently opened, along with expanded early-release programs, have allowed the state to bring back more inmates. The state is also housing more prisoners in rented Wisconsin county jail cells. Said Corrections Secretary Matthew Frank: “We make a long-term investment, keep them close to home, close to their families (and) the positive support so that when they’re released back into the community, they have somewhere to go. You can’t do that when somebody is housed in another state.” The state pays Corrections Corporation of America $50 a day per inmate for prisoners it holds. Housing an inmate at a state facility costs $67 a day.