MILWAUKEE, WI – Members of the Milwaukee Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) will host a bake sale outside the public budget hearing on Tuesday to raise money to be deposited into commissary accounts in the Milwaukee County Jail to address conditions they have called “unacceptable.”
While Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley has touted the 2023 county budget as a step forward for health and safety, not everyone agrees. Milwaukee DSA, along with four other community groups, released a statement Thursday demanding that the county divert funds from the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) patrol and correctional officer staffing budget to improve conditions in the county jail and fund programs cut in the 2023 budget. The sheriff’s budget has risen by 44 percent since 2020.
DSA members are hosting the bake sale in response to lack of action on their demands for improved conditions in the county jail. In a September meeting of the Judiciary, Law Enforcement and General Services committee, County Supervisor Patti Logsdon thanked constituents who spoke in favor of eliminating charges for phone calls at the county jail for their passion and suggested that they start their own fund to cover those costs before moving to table the motion. This drew a fiery response from Bay View resident Ron Jansen. In response, DSA decided to host a bake sale to lampoon the idea that constituents should be responsible for raising money for the county jail. The County Board of Supervisors ultimately opted to reduce the cost of phone calls at the jail but did not commit to making them free.
In addition to raising funds for people in the jail, DSA hopes this action will draw attention to conditions there. They also hope to increase pressure on the county board of supervisors to adopt some of County Supervisor Ryan Clancy’s budget amendments to move money away from the MCSO patrol budget into other areas such as public transit, lifeguard salaries, and free visitation at the jail. Supervisor Clancy hosted a press conference on these amendments last Thursday along with County Supervisor Juan Miguel Martinez. “The Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office does not keep us safe,” Clancy said. “These [amendments] do.”