Sheriff takes 61 inmates off GPS devices, throws them back in jail

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke has put 61 inmates back in the Milwaukee County Jail, who were free with electronic monitoring bracelets.  Clarke says the sheriff's department is using a stricter policy in terms of who is allowed to be out on the streets and who must remain behind bars.

Sheriff Clarke says he has no second thoughts over his recent decision to throw 61 inmates back in jail. "The best place for them is behind bars. Some of them have been ordered by circuit court judges to be put on GPS and we found case law that says judges can't do that," Clarke said.

Milwaukee County Chief Judge Jeffrey Kremers says Sheriff Clarke has sole responsibility to determine who is allowed to be out of jail and who may be placed on electronic GPS devices. However, the chief judge says the sudden change in policy came without any warning to the courts. "When he decided to (make changes) I think it would have been helpful to the courts and I think it would have been the professional thing to do to notify the courts that he was changing the rules so that we would be prepared for the motions we got," Kremers said.

The chief judge says there has been confusion as inmates ask the court why they were placed back in jail.  Kremers says only the Clarke can answers those questions.

Clarke says the courts have been attempting to take control by making court orders, not opinions, as recently as Wednesday. As for letting the courts know about the changes to the rules, Clarke says it's something he is not required to do. Clarke says his only responsibility is to protect this community. "The best place for a convicted criminal to be, is locked up," Clarke said.

Clarke says the reason for the policy change is due to a change in command in that division. He says he is not given a heads up when criminals are released to the courts.