Parisi’s budget proposes efficiencies for county’s criminal justice system

County executive's 2013 operating budget for Sheriff's Office is $68.15 million
Parisi’s budget proposes efficiencies for county’s criminal justice system

Dane County Executive Joe Parisi announced Tuesday that his 2013 budget includes several proposals that will increase the efficiency of Dane County’s criminal justice system and bolster ongoing efforts to transition out of the Huber work release Ferris Center.

“In county government we are constantly looking at ways to streamline and innovate to effectively deliver the vital public safety services that keep our communities safe,” Parisi said in a news release. “Last year, Sheriff (Dave) Mahoney and I partnered to save county taxpayers nearly $1 million by closing a floor of the Ferris Center. My 2013 budget further sets the stage to transition out of that facility through a number of proposals to address the root causes of incarceration, repeat offenses and more efficient use of space.”

Parisi’s 2013 operating budget for the Dane County Sheriff’s Office is $68.15 million. In addition to fully funding the Sheriff’s Department’s rural patrol and community deputies, the budget also adds staff to the county’s electronic monitoring program, creates a new program to help inmates sentenced to Huber get jobs, and moves forward with a reallocation of space, allowing for the potential creation of new jail beds in the Public Safety Building.

Parisi said that funding for a popular treatment program for convicted, repeat drunken drivers is increased 40 percent — another $80,000 — in his budget. The expansion of the program known as Pathfinder will reduce the number of people waiting in jail or at the Huber Center to get into this treatment, saving county tax dollars and reducing the risk these offenders will repeat their crimes and return to jail in the future, Parisi said.

The budget also includes the increased staffing needed to expand the Sheriff’s Office’s electronic monitoring program for lower-risk offenders. For the past few months, that program has experienced the highest participation it has ever seen. Currently, 145 people are serving a sentence on electronic monitoring, roughly 40 more than last year, according to the release.

Mahoney has commissioned a space needs study of the Public Safety Building to evaluate the facility and the potential to develop 30-40 new jail beds on the first floor, including special needs space for inmates with various medical challenges, and provide additional flexibility for any upcoming Huber transition.

To assist with space needs in the Public Safety Building, and to address the growing needs of two other public safety departments, the county executive’s budget includes the relocation of the Dane County Emergency Management Office and the county’s Medical Examiner’s Office, according to the release.

Building a bigger facility for the Medical Examiner’s Office will help the medical examiner and his team meet growing caseloads and increase the opportunity for additional forensic pathology work from neighboring counties, according to the release.