Milwaukee Jailings Down: Wise Diversion or “Social Engineering”?


A steep decline in the number of adults and juveniles incarcerated in Milwaukee County since 2008 lowered the cost to taxpayers by $11 million in 2010, says a Public Policy forum report quoted by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Adults in county lockups are down 16 percent since 2008. The decline in juveniles from Milwaukee County held in state or local institutions has been particularly dramatic. Juveniles sentenced to state facilities dropped 35 percent and those in local detention dropped 17 percent.

“We can draw a conclusion that things we’ve been working on the last couple of years are paying off,” said Chief Judge Jeffrey Kremers, citing jail alternative programs, needs assessments of inmates, and drug treatment court. Sheriff David Clarke calls diversion programs and other efforts successful at reducing jail populations unwise “social engineering” that masks a worsening public safety problem.

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