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A subcommittee of the Dane County Board considered proposals related to law enforcement and public safety on Tuesday night.
Among them was a proposal to analyze cash bail, the amount of money needed to get out of jail while waiting for a trial.
Dane County Supervisor Carousel Bayrd, the vice chair of the Public Protection and Judiciary Committee, says a study of all criminal charges from 2016 to 2018 found that “81% of individuals who are charged with a crime in Dane County are given a signature bond, which means they have been assessed no cash bail,” said Bayrd.
“The idea behind this proposal, though, was that even though 81% of individuals are not assessed cash bail in Dane County, that still leaves the remaining 19%. So this is a review of what happened to those individuals who are assessed cash bail. Why are they assessed cash bail, what crime have they been charged with, we want the racial breakdown, we want to know the amount of cash bail that they’re being assessed, whether they’re able to post the cash bail,” she adds.
Local organization Free the 350 prioritizes bailing out Black people incarcerated in the Dane County Jail. Liam Manjon, an organizer with Free the 350, told WORT News in June that cash bail is discriminatory.
“Bailing people out of the criminal justice system, out of the jail in Dane County, to us represented a freedom from that system of modern day slavery and so we thought that was a succinct way to point out the fact that slavery kind of never ended but rather transformed into different systems,” said Manjon.
The same committee also on Tuesday recommended for approval a proposal to accept state grant funds for body cameras. Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney says the real-time feedback would be an asset for tactical response teams in his department.
“What it will allow us to do is, traditionally, in a major, major event, so maybe a special teams callout, the bomb squad or the hostage association team, or suicide, or execution of a search warrant by a specialty tactical response team, they will be equipped with body cameras that would then be able to be monitored real time at a command post staffed by management,” said Sheriff Mahoney.
“And the value of the real time video meshing is it allows command-level staff monitoring that incident to step in if the need arises and make a decision that could have a different outcome.”
Another proposal recommended for approval would transfer more than $200,000 from records management to vehicle and equipment replacement.
Meanwhile, the subject that drew the most public comment was not on the agenda. Members of the public called in to support a resolution that halt the construction of the new Dane County Jail. That resolution was introduced by Dane County Board supervisor Elizabeth Doyle, and was recommended for approval by the Dane County Health & Human Needs Committee in July.