WJI is reposting reporting from the old storyhill.net website and affidavits from County Jail inmates unfortunate enough to be booked during Sheriff David Clarke's tenure to show just what kind of malfeasance the public can expect if President-elect Donald Trump gives Clarke a federal job.
The affidavits were part of a court case alleging thousands of men and women were improperly detained in the jail under excessive lengths of time, in violation of a 2001 consent decree.
Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Clare Fiorenza eventually found the county in contempt of court for the violations.
Thousands held improperly in crowded jail booking room through scroll bar error
Could cost county, insurers
June 27, 2005 --Thousands of men and women were improperly detained for more than 30 hours each in a crowded county jail booking room because a sheriff's deputy never moved his computer scroll bar, court records show.
"I think if -- if I may impose on court and counsel's experience, sometimes when the information presented is wider than the screen, there's a little slide bar at the bottom of the computer," Assistant Corporation Counsel John Schapekahm told Circuit Judge Clare Fiorenza. "He never push the slide bar apparently."
While Sheriff David Clarke's department has been in the spotlight for letting convicted drug dealer Cesar Lira escape by walking out the door after posting bond, the lawsuit over jail population shows that the Lira case is not the only major blunder that Clarke has overseen.
Fiorenza suggested that training that deputies received may be an issue in the jail case.
The improper detentions, which violated a 2001 consent decree, occurred over a 1 1/2-year period of Clarke's tenure. There were more than 13,000 such violations, according to the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin Foundation Inc. and Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee, Inc.
Information about how long inmates were held in booking was available via computer, Schapekahm said. But that particular piece of information was in the eighth column of a table, and only seven columns showed on the computer that a deputy used to track inmates.
The failure to properly operate a scroll bar could cost the county or its insurers -- a judge already has said the Sheriff's Department may well be liable for damages.
The county for months denied held inmates for more than 30 hours in the booking room. The scroll bar discovery quickly prompted it to change its story.
Officials "were appalled see this, of course," Schapekahm said. "It's not a pretty sight.
Gretchen Schuldt is executive director of the Wisconsin Justice Initiative.
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