Wisconsin Weekly: Pay-to-stay and other fees put WI inmates deep in debt

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Jail fees; juvenile offenders kept closer to home; WI voting equipment vulnerable to attack; source of vaping illnesses explored; protecting the Wisconsin River


Of note: This week we highlight the excellent survey and story by Wisconsin Watch’s Izabela Zaluska documenting the sometimes steep fees that inmates in the state are charged when they are locked up. Zaluska found that at least 23 Wisconsin counties charge inmates so-called pay-to-stay fees, which can add up to hundreds of dollars a month. Opponents of the fees say the debt can make it harder for offenders to reintegrate into society. Supporters say inmates create the need for jails and prisons — and should help pay for them.

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Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Watch

A registered sex offender shows his GPS ankle monitoring equipment. Some jail inmates are charged a fee for the monitoring, which can add up to hundreds of dollars per month. Monitoring is among several types of fees, including room and board, medical visits and booking fees, that jail inmates in Wisconsin may be forced to pay.

Pay-to-stay, other fees, can put jail inmates hundreds or thousands in debt

Wisconsin Watch — September 15, 2019

In 2011, Sean Pugh was arrested for allegedly violating terms of his release from prison. A year and a half into his roughly two-year stay in the Brown County Jail, he realized he owed the county around $17,000 — the result of a $20 daily “pay-to-stay” fee plus fees from previous jail stints. Brown County is one of at least 23 Wisconsin counties that assess “pay-to-stay” fees, which charge inmates for room and board for the time they are incarcerated, according to a Wisconsin Watch survey of county jails.

Review finds Wisconsin voting equipment at times connected to internet, potentially vulnerable

WisPolitics.com — September 14, 2019

Vital election equipment in at least seven Wisconsin counties has been connected to the internet, in some cases for nearly a year at a time, despite Wisconsin elections officials and voting machine vendors repeatedly claiming the devices cannot be hacked because they are not connected to the web, WisPolitics found. A group of election security experts who went looking for vulnerabilities to check claims of vendors found the connections and warned the Wisconsin Elections Commission ahead of the 2018 midterm elections. But state officials failed to notify all but one of the counties.

Vaping bad: Were 2 Wisconsin brothers the Walter Whites of THC oils?

The New York Times — September 15, 2019

A drug bust this month in Wisconsin, where THC is illegal, offers an intimate look at the shadowy operations serving large numbers of teenagers and adults around the country using black-market vaping products, sometimes unknowingly because it is difficult to tell them apart from legitimate ones. Vaping devices, which have soared in popularity as a way to consume nicotine and THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, have been linked in the last several months to nearly 400 illnesses and six deaths. Read the Journal Sentinel’s coverage of how local doctors made the connection here.

A limited-secure facility for “high-risk” youths in the justice system in Brooklyn, New York, blends in with the other apartments on the block.

A tale of two cities: How New York and Milwaukee approach juvenile justice

Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service — September 9, 2019

Just one year before New York passed Close to Home, in 2011, Wisconsin took a drastically different approach to shifting how it handled youths in the justice system. Rather than shuttering large prison-like institutions and moving young Milwaukee offenders back to the city, the state closed its correctional facility in southeastern Wisconsin and transferred them to Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake in northern Wisconsin. This series explores how New York tackled the problem of juvenile justice in a very different way. Read Part 2 and Part 3 here.

A riverway runs through it

Isthmus — September 19, 2019

Former Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz traces the history of legislation creating protections for the Lower Wisconsin Riverway. At the time, in 1989, the Legislature was controlled by Democrats who compromised with their Republican colleagues and stood together as the bill was signed into law by a Republican governor. And all of that came amid some of the most polarized political rancor the state has ever seen. Today, Cieslewicz finds, the political landscape is even more divided.

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