While professional internet troll, hat-wearer, television pundit, podcast host, speaker, and, oh yeah, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke spent much of 2016 performing five of the above duties, four people died in the Milwaukee County Jail: Terrill Thomas, Kristina Fiebrink, Michael Madden, and an infant that had been born in the jail. Despite internal investigations, nothing has come of the deaths, and Clarke has been too busy threatening people who call for his resignation—and threatening newspaper writers, and threatening other people, and passing the buck—to comment.
Now, Milwaukee County Board Supervisors have announced they will consider a resolution creating the framework for external investigations into the deaths. A vote is expected at a meeting Thursday, December 15. A press release is below:
Supervisors to Consider External Investigations of In-Custody Deaths
Milwaukee County Board expected to vote Thursday on establishing policy
MILWAUKEE – In response to the recent deaths at the county jail, County Board Supervisors will consider a resolution establishing a policy for external investigations of in-custody deaths at the Milwaukee County Jail and House of Correction that is modeled on a 2013 state law.
“There can be no ambiguity when it comes to something as serious as understanding the circumstances that led to the death of someone in the custody of Milwaukee County,” said Chairman Theodore Lipscomb, Sr., who authored the resolution.
The resolution complements a separate action initiated by Chairman Lipscomb, who requested on November 1 that the Milwaukee County Comptroller conduct an audit of the private medical services contract for the Jail and House of Correction (HOC). That audit is ongoing.
The Judiciary Committee will consider the resolution, co-sponsored by Supervisor Supreme Moore Omokunde, at a special meeting on Thursday, December 15, at 8:30AM. If the committee recommends adoption, the Board of Supervisors will then consider the resolution at their regular monthly meeting that same day.
If the resolution is adopted, supervisors will establish a broad county policy modeled on the procedures outlined in State Statute 175.47 for external investigations of in-custody deaths. The resolution would require the HOC and Office of the Sheriff to report on the implementation of the policy in January.
Act 348 of 2013 requires all law enforcement agencies to have a written policy on investigations of officer-involved deaths, and requires an external investigation whenever an off-or-on duty law enforcement officer – but not a jail officer – is involved in a custodial death.
The House of Correction, which is overseen by the County Executive’s administration, does not have a formal written policy requiring external investigations of inmate deaths.
Four deaths have occurred in the Milwaukee County Jail this year. Terrill Thomas died of dehydration in April, an infant died shortly after the mother gave birth in the jail in July, Kristina Fiebrink died in August, and Michael Madden died in October.