Wisconsin Prisoner Population Swells
Inmates in Wisconsin’s prisons are proliferating at a rate two times higher than that of guards in recent years, according to data from the state Department of Corrections. The data indicates that between fiscal 2002 and fiscal 2005, the daily average number of inmates in state prison increased by roughly 7,000 inmates to 21,847, an increase of 45%. In response, corrections officers put in more overtime hours.
John Dipko, spokesman for the Corrections Department, said that an increase in the inmate-to-officer ratio–from 3.9 to 4.8 during the same time period–did not impact safety. He explained that security was adequate as a result of improved building design, new technology, and extra minimum- and medium-security capacity.
University of Wisconsin-Madison law professor Walter Dickey concurs that new technology and building arrangements have helped keep prisons safe despite having fewer guards, but added that if the problem is a long term one, then prison personnel should increase.
Marty Beil of the Wisconsin State Employees Union disapproved of the high amount of overtime paid to corrections officers, which increased by 78% from 2002 to 2005 to $20.7 million.
“So instead of putting the bodies where they need to be, we pay overtime,” he said.
Abstracted by the National Law Enforcement and Corrections Technology Center(NLECTC) from the Wisconsin State Journal (03/29/06) P. B1; Stein, Jason.