County Executive Falk Seeks Relief from Housing State Inmates in County Jail
February 20, 2003
Sharyn Wisniewski (608) 267-8823
Mandate Costs Dane County $1.3 million per year.
Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk is requesting a waiver from the Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) to relieve the county from a mandate to house state probation and parole holds in the county jail. (Letter to Revenue Secretary Morgan follows this press release.)
State prisoners, in jail because of a probation or parole hold, account for about 18 percent, or 180 inmates, of the county’s average daily population. “If these inmates were removed from the county’s jail, we would not be experiencing population pressures,” said Falk.
Under current law, counties are responsible for housing state prisoners pending disposition of parole, extended supervision, or probation revocation proceedings. Besides creating population pressures in the county jail, it also creates financial pressures, Falk wrote in a letter to DOR Secretary Michael Morgan.
The state only reimburses up to a rate of $40 per offender per day; however, the state in 2001-2002 actually only paid the county $37 per day per offender, due to lack of funds.
The actual cost of housing an inmate in the Dane County jail is $60 per day.
“This means that the county is subsidizing probation and parole holds at a rate of at least $20 per day. If, on average, we have 180 state inmates in our jail on any given day, this subsidy to the state is costing county taxpayers at least $1.3 million a year. That’s not fair,” said Falk.
Falk is also seeking a waiver from a state requirement to automatically file or deliver to the Department of Corrections a transcript of a defendant’s sentencing, if the defendant is sentenced to the state prison system. The transcript must accompany the prisoner, along with a copy of the judgment of conviction and a copy of any order for restitution.
The Department of Corrections is the only agency that does not pay for a portion of the transcript and is the only agency that receives a copy of every transcript automatically, rather than by request. The State Public Defender and the District Attorney only request select transcripts, and both agencies pay for the copies of the transcripts they order.
“If a state agency requests a transcript, I’d like to make sure they really need it. And, if they do, it makes sense that they pay for it,” said Falk. “We pay about $30,000 annually to prepare these transcripts. We’re requesting a more equitable and fair distribution of costs.”
A Resolution supporting the County Executive’s request for relief from the two mandates is being submitted tonight (February 20), at the County Board meeting.
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February 18, 2003
Secretary Michael L. Morgan
Wisconsin Department of Revenue
Post Office Box 8933
Madison, Wisconsin 53708-8933
Dear Secretary Morgan:
Wisconsin Statute 66.0143 allows local governments to request mandate waivers from the State of Wisconsin, except for a state mandate that is related to protecting health or safety. I am requesting that the State grant two specific mandate waivers to Dane County:
-- the requirement that counties house State probation and parole holds under Section 302.33, Wis Stats.; and
-- the requirement that the Clerk of Courts provide transcripts to the Department of Corrections under Wis. Stats. 973.08(1) and 814.69(1)(a).
Background information for each of the mandate waiver requests is contained in the balance of this request.
Probation and Parole Holds
Under current law, counties are responsible for housing state prisoners pending the disposition of parole, extended supervision, or probation revocation proceedings. Probation and parole holds account for approximately 18% of the County’s average daily population. For Dane County, this represents approximately 180 inmates that are in the jail because of a probation or parole hold. If these inmates were removed from the County’s jail, we would not be experiencing population pressures.
The probation and parole hold mandate not only causes population pressures in the County’s jail, but it also creates fiscal pressure because reimbursement rates are not commensurate with the actual cost of maintaining prisoners. Statute requires the State to reimburse counties at a rate not to exceed $40 per offender per day, unless the number of reimbursable bed days exceeds appropriation levels. In that case, the daily reimbursement rate is prorated. (For fiscal year 2001-2002, the reimbursement rate was prorated to $37 per offender per day.)
While this reimbursement helps to defray the cost of housing probation and parole holds, it is not sufficient to pay the actual cost of housing an inmate in the Dane County jail which is approximately $60 per day. This means that the County is subsidizing probation and parole holds at a rate of at least $20 per offender per day. If the average daily probation and parole hold population is 180 inmates, the annual probation and parole hold subsidy costs the County at least $1.3 million a year.
Transcripts Provided to the Department of Corrections
Whenever any defendant is sentenced to the State prison system, the Clerk of Courts Office is required to file or deliver a transcript of any portion of proceedings related to a prisoner’s sentence to the Department of Corrections. The transcript must accompany the prisoner along with a copy of the judgment of conviction and a copy of any order for restitution.
State court reporters prepare these transcripts, and the County is responsible for paying for them at the rate of $1.50 per 25-line page for the original and $0.50 per 25-line page for the duplicate. The Department of Corrections is the only agency that does not pay for a portion of the transcript and is the only agency that receives a copy of every transcript automatically rather than by request. Both the State Public Defender and the District Attorney only request select transcripts, and both agencies pay for the copies of the transcripts they order. The Statute should be revised so that the requesting agency pays the total cost of preparing the transcript rather than have that cost assigned to the County. This modification would provide a more equitable and fair distribution of costs. Dane County pays approximately $30,000 annually to prepare transcripts.
Thank you for the opportunity to make these mandate waiver requests. Please contact me for additional information or clarification. We look forward to working with the State of Wisconsin on these issues.
Dane County Executive