Governor Scott Walker wants to eliminate tower guards overnight at Wisconsin prisons to save the state about $6 million over two years. AFSCME executive director Marty Beil opposes that idea. “These guard towers weren’t put up there because they look nice.”
Walker’s two-year spending plan would cut 60 jobs in the Corrections Department. He recommends making use of technology and ground patrols to ensure prison security during the third shift. “Having a person in the towers is not just 20th century, but in many cases it’s almost 19th century technology in a 21st century society.”
Beil says corrections is already under-staffed. He says this is just one of many ideas in the budget that are “beyond the pale of belief.” What’s worse, Beil reveals, a memo from Corrections Secretary Ed Wall alludes to even more changes. “It’s third shift now, but we’re looking at closing all the towers — first, second, and third.”
Beil says the changes would have a direct “incredible” impact on the security of the facilities.
The governor delivered his budget address to the legislature on Tuesday. The lawmakers will examine its contents during the coming months.
Mike Kemmeter, WHBY contributed to this story