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John Mercure: Mercurey Rising

Let the Criminals Work

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There is a new debate raging in Milwaukee County. These are Milwaukee County inmates working along one of our highways.

David Clarke has been the Milwaukee County Sheriff for ten years. From the beginning of his tenure he has had inmates work. They do things like mop floors, and pick up trash.  Now the Sheriff wants to take it to the next level. He would like to use the inmates for things like painting, raking, and cleaning the grounds where the jail is located.

County officials have objected to some of these proposals. They fear that having inmates do those duties could displace county workers who currently do those jobs.

Today the sheriff told me, "Look. I am trying to do what is best for the citizens of Milwaukee County. I can save money and do things more efficiently. I can even turn some of the savings into other law enforcement programs."

It is also important to point out that none of the inmates are forced to work. The Sheriff says there is waiting list for inmates who are willing to do the work. It helps them break up the monotony of jail life.

I say, 'Let the criminals work."  I would like to see them doing more. If a guy serving time for dealing drugs can save my tax dollars by cleaning toilets then let's do it.  Have the punk, rather than the janitor making $35 an hour, do some of the work.  This is frickin' ridiculous.

It seems every time the Sheriff comes up with a more efficient and fiscally responsible way to do things, there is opposition.

By the way, I reached out to some of those county leaders who have expressed concerns with the sheriff's plans and none of them got back to me.  Shocker! (not!)

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