Home Correction journal Prison Overcrowding Causes Problems – Milwaukee Community Journal

Prison Overcrowding Causes Problems – Milwaukee Community Journal


All city police departments bring their prisoners downtown to the Milwaukee County Jail after processing at district stations. This includes all cities in Milwaukee County, Milwaukee being the largest. The prison is currently almost at capacity. There are currently 890 prisoners with a capacity of over nine hundred beds. More than 180 prisoners await to be charged with homicide. Some have been in prison for more than two years awaiting trial. The covid pandemic has made the situation worse. In addition, the prison is understaffed. They can move the most violent offenders to the reformatory to make more room. It will take a few years for all these offenders to come to trial.

Chief Justice Mary Triggiano said everything is on the table to try to resolve this situation. She hopes to use federal covid dollars to help. There is a backlog of 1700 criminal cases and three thousand misdemeanor cases. She considers trying to have a night court to help her. This would require more judges, prosecutors and defense attorneys. She says, “it would give us the ability to handle more cases outside normal office hours.” Reserve and retired judges should be hired to run these courts. Plus, you would also need more MPs in all those new courtrooms.

Not all of those local district stations in places like Shorewood, Whitefish Bay, Bayside, Glendale, and Milwaukee are designed to house prisoners for long periods of time. This can cause issues when you need to store them for long periods of time. You need to have extra food to feed them and you need to watch them to make sure they don’t try to harm themselves. Last week, a District 5 prisoner was found unconscious in a cell block. Medical attention was called, but he eventually died. He had been at the station for more than 15 hours, which is a long time in a district station. Currently, an investigation is underway by an outside agency to see what happened. The prison situation downtown needs to be addressed quickly so that offenders can get to downtown in a timely manner.

Greg Thompson