Questions Loom Over Recent Deaths at Milwaukee County Jail

Four people have died in the Milwaukee County Jail since April. A baby was the latest, and late last week, the mother filed a claim for $8.5 million in damages.

News Story (Wisconsin)

LaToya Dennis
WUWM (local NPR, Milwaukee)
November 21, 2016

Tags: Criminal Justice, Prisoners Rights

Organizations mentioned/involved: Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee


Back in the late 1990s a former inmate at the Milwaukee County Jail sued it, alleging overcrowding. The county settled by agreeing to cap the number of inmates at 960 – and provide adequate, well-trained medical staff. Now, 15 years later, the jail still isn’t compliant when it comes to health care staffing, according to Peter Koneanzy. He’s director of litigation for the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee. It along with the ACLU of Wisconsin represented the plaintiffs.

“Typically it’s not the most desirable place for some people to want to work if they’re in the medical profession. So if there’s shortages in nursing, staffing generally, then it’s going to be seen more acutely in a correctional setting,” Koneanzy says.

A few years ago, the county decided to contract with a private company called Armor to ease the shortage. Koneanzy says in some ways, the jail is in better shape now than when Armor began providing inmates’ health, dental and mental care.