Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney has heard the request from the Madison City Council. But he’s continuing on with the practice of notifying immigration officials when it comes to undocumented inmates at the jail. “I just don’t think that I can back off on a necessary tool to ensure safety in our jail. It’s imperative to our safety, to the housing and classification of inmates. We can’t have known gang members sitting in the same cell with each other,” says Mahoney.
The city council unanimously passed a resolution to only contact immigration when a felony is involved. Mahoney says it doesn’t matter if it’s a felony or misdemeanor, “It doesn’t because the purpose for my making contact is for identification. And it really doesn’t matter if someone is in for a major homicide or they’re there for a minor offense brought in by the Madison Police Department. If somebody is brought and incarcerated into the county jail, it is imperative that I use every tool possible.”
Mahoney cites numbers to defend his case, “Over 800 individuals booked into the Dane County Jail and in that same 18 month period, there were some over 100 that had a hold placed on them. And a hold doesn’t mean deportation; a hold may mean an interview by immigration.”
The sheriff says this has been the practice at the jail for more than 30 years.