Milwaukee, WI – On September 11, at a Judiciary Committee meeting of the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors, community members took a stance against increased funding for the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO). The MCSO is seeking a 34% budgetary increase to “look into” the conditions of the county jail and solve their “staffing shortage.” There have been six in-custody deaths within the past year, with no changes in policy or preventative action taken by the MCSO.
Kerrie Hirte gave testimony about the treatment of her daughter Cilivea Thyrion, leading up to her death in December of 2022, describing the mental health care her daughter received as inadequate, lacking privacy and dehumanizing.
“Money is given to you to use wisely, but if it’s not used for the services we need, why give it to them? They’ve been given more money, and yet still people are dying inside the jail. They’ve been given all these things and yet here I am as a mother without a child,” said Hirte. She pledged to keep showing up and fighting in order to stop any other families from going through the same experience.
Representatives of the MCSO stated that more funding would help with better staffing and could help prevent further issues within the jail. County supervisor and chair of the Judiciary Committee, Ryan Clancy, pushed back against this narrative. Clancy asked the MCSO why they hadn’t included any policy changes or action plans in their proposal for a larger budget. He also referenced how the correctional officers have seen two recent raises, yet conditions in the jail have not changed.
“Sheriff Ball ran her campaign on accountability and transparency, and yet there has been none. We need an elected accountability council of the Milwaukee County Jails, now!” stated Tiffany Stark, a member of The Milwaukee Alliance and Coalition for Justice for Brieon Green. The need for transparency and accountability was stressed by all community members who spoke at the meeting, highlighting the larger struggle for police accountability that has been a nationwide struggle.
In order to prevent further deaths and significantly improve the conditions inside the jail, the status quo cannot remain. The Milwaukee Alliance and the Justice for Brieon Green Coalition are demanding the creation of a civilian accountability council with the power to hold the MCSO accountable, control its budget, oversee all investigations regarding issues inside the jail, and create MCSO policy.
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