County Executive, Sheriff, Partner on Efficiencies for Dane County’s Criminal Justice System in 2013 Budget
October 30, 2012
Casey Slaughter Becker, Office of the County Executive (608) 267-8823 or cell (608) 843-8858
Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, joined by county government’s top public safety officials, announced today that his 2013 budget includes several proposals that will increase the efficiency of Dane County’s criminal justice system and bolster ongoing efforts to transition out of the Huber work release Ferris Center.
“In county government we are constantly looking at ways to streamline and innovate to effectively deliver the vital public safety services that keep our communities safe,” said Parisi. “Last year, Sheriff Mahoney and I partnered to save county taxpayers nearly $1 million by closing a floor of the Ferris Center. My 2013 budget further sets the stage to transition out of that facility through a number of proposals to address the root causes of incarceration, repeat offenses, and more efficient use of space.”
Parisi’s 2013 operating budget for the Sheriff's Office is $68.15 million. In addition to fully funding the Sheriff’s Department’s rural patrol and community deputies, the budget also adds staff to the county’s highly successful electronic monitoring program, creates a new program to help inmates sentenced to Huber get jobs, and moves forward with a reallocation of space – allowing for the potential creation of new jail beds in the Public Safety Building.
Funding for a popular treatment program for convicted, repeat drunk drivers is increased 40% in Parisi’s budget (another $80,000). The expansion of the program known as “Pathfinder” will reduce the number of individuals waiting in jail or at the Huber Center to get into this treatment, saving county tax dollars and reducing the risk these offenders will repeat their crimes and return to jail in the future.
"With the increased positions in electronic monitoring outlined in the 2013 Dane County Budget we will not only increase efficiency but ensure closer monitoring of those serving sentences, ensuring our program rules are followed,” said Sheriff Dave Mahoney. “And by increasing beds in the Pathfinder program we will continue to address the core addiction issues many entering the criminal justice suffer from."
The County Executive’s budget alsoincludes the increased staffing needed to expand the Sheriff's highly successful electronic monitoring program for lower-risk offenders. For the past few months, that program has experienced the highest participation it has ever seen. Currently, 145 individuals are serving a sentence on electronic monitoring, roughly 40 more than last year.
Parisi’s budget would further reduce the population of the Ferris Center by addressing one of the primary barriers that keeps people sitting in the center instead of exercising their work release privileges. Those sentenced to Huber aren’t currently allowed to use their own cars, but the County Executive’s budget includes $15,000 to start up a transportation service to help Huber inmates get to jobs and begin the process of rebuilding their lives.
Sheriff Dave Mahoney has commissioned a space needs study of the Public Safety Building (PSB) to evaluate the facility and the potential to develop 30-40 new jail beds on the first floor, including special needs space for inmates with various medical challenges, and provide additional flexibility for any upcoming Huber transition.
To assist with space needs in the Public Safety Building, and to address the growing needs of two other public safety departments, the County Executive’s budget includes the relocation of the Dane County Emergency Management Office and the county’s Medical Examiner’s Office.
Building a bigger facility for the Medical Examiner’s Office will help Dr. Tranchida and his team meet growing caseloads (more than 400 death investigations projected for 2013, up from 200 autopsies done in 2010) and increase the opportunity for additional forensic pathology work from neighboring counties.
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