New system to improve prisoner trackingThe Wisconsin Department of Corrections is adopting a new data processing system to track inmates from the day they enter prison through the completion of their probation or parole.
By: Gil Halsted, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
The Wisconsin Department of Corrections is adopting a new data processing system to track inmates from the day they enter prison through the completion of their probation or parole. DOC Secretary Rick Raemisch says it's part of a new effort to reduce recidivism.
In an internal memo sent last week to all DOC staff, Raemisch set December 2012 as the deadline for the end of business as usual and the adoption of a new electronic case management system. The new system will make it much easier for prison staff, community corrections officers and nonprofit groups assisting ex-offenders to communicate with each other and the inmate about his or her needs both in and out of prison.
Mary Kay Kollat is the director of re-entry programs for the DOC. She says the system will help them improve an offender’s employment readiness, and identify housing opportunities and treatment services while they’re still incarcerated, and then follow-up with them in the community.
Federal funds from the Second Chance Act will cover the cost of the new program but the question is whether or not it really reduces recidivism. Kollat says the department's definition of recidivism is the number of ex-offenders who are convicted of committing new crimes. But prison reform activists say it should also include people sent back to prison for violating a parole rule.
Current recidivism rates in Wisconsin range from 39 percent to 58 percent depending on how many prior convictions an ex-offender has had.