Supervisor wants to defund jail


Empower Wisconsin | July 10, 2020

By David Blaska,

MADISON  — The other shoe has dropped. A Dane County Board supervisor is proposing an immediate halt to planning, design, architecture, and construction of a new jail. 


Race, of course. 

Supvisor Elizabeth Doyle says that the United States “incarcerates more people, most of whom are people of color, than any other nation.”

The wide-ranging proposal would also monitor judges’ sentencing decisions for signs of racism. 

The county would compile “racial disparity and incarceration statistics on the Dane County website for all actors in the criminal justice system. Begin by publishing incarceration statistics including racial disparity statistics for all Dane County judges.”

Dane County has been debating jail construction at least since a 2014 jail study recommended replacing the unsafe and inhumane jail on the top two floors of the City- County Building in downtown Madison. The cost is now estimated at $148 million.

Doyle proposes converting office space in the Public Safety Building into jail beds and using “remote hospital sites and community based recovery sites” to house inmates with mental health issues.

Doyle condemns Dane County for “allow[ing] the militarization of law enforcement.” She was endorsed by the Democrat(ic) party. She represents much of downtown Madison, including the Capitol Square.

Doyle also proposes: 

  • Adding “representatives of communities of color” to the Criminal Justice Council 
  • Eliminating the work-release program 
  • Restorative justice
  • “Dramatically reducing” probation and parole holds
  • Creating inventory of local law enforcement use of force policies.

Doyle’s campaign treasurer is Judy Karofsky, former mayor of Middleton and mother of Jill Karofsky, who was elected this spring to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.


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  1. Harold Wilkes Avatar
    Harold Wilkes

    Perhaps Elizabeth Doyle could convert her house into a remote hospital site or community based recovery site to house inmates with mental health issues. They have common ground.

  2. Big Shirl Avatar
    Big Shirl

    Is she starting a trend or following a trend. Where has this been done before? What are the results? Lots of success? Failure? Who should she contact to verify results of an already-tried experiment. If her plan has been implemented in other cities, tell the other board members so they can go on an investigative field trip to see how well her plan works.

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