David Clarke, the constitutional sheriff

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Illusory Tenant took the words out of my mouth about Sheriff David Clarke's plan for a Milwaukee County boot camp for prisoners. The quote in the story that really jumped out:

 

The sheriff dropped hints earlier about his boot camp idea, but has not yet consulted with judges, prosecutors and others in the criminal justice system. He plans to formally roll out the plan soon and said he hopes to get other officials to buy in. If not, he'll impose it anyway, Clarke said.

"With my constitutional authority, if I have to, I'll do it unilaterally," he said.

Clarke, the right-winger who gets elected by posing as a Democrat, has long had a theory that as a state constitutional officer he is free to do whatever he pleases. (Register of deeds, treasurer, clerk, DA and other county officials also were created by the state constituion, but no one else makes that claim.)

That hasn't always worked out so well. In his early days as sheriff, I recall him saying he didn't need to get his budget approved by the county board and executive, because he was a constitutional officer and no one could tell him how to do his job or how much he needed to spend to do it. He got over that.

He announced that the sheriff had jurisdiction in the entire county, not just the unincorporated areas, so he would be sending his deputies into cities and villages -- much to the dismay of local police chiefs, who backed him off.

He even announced at one point that he was going to send foot patrols into Milwaukee's inner city, but that was simply cover for his plan to punish one lone deputy who challenged him by sending him to patrol by himself, on foot, in dangerous neighborhoods. The only thing Clarke didn't do was to force him to do it unarmed.

He has been told repeatedly by the courts, in a string of losing cases, that he really can't ignore the deputies' union, the County Personnel Commission, or the law in dealing with people who work for him.

Clarke thinks boot camp could keep offenders from returning to their old ways when they are released. Or maybe, instead of sending them back to their neighborhoods, he wants to ship them straight to Afghanistan. It's hard to tell.

Clarke also wants his new boot camp to include Bible study. He could start with Matthew 7:12

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you.

Clarke is running for reelection this fall, and if Scott Walker or Tom Barrett becomes governor it would notbe surprising to see him run for mayor or county exec, although he embarrassed himself with a terrible campaign when he ran for mayor in 2004. He faces a primary challenge from a real Democrat, Chris Moews. but Clarke is savvy on playing on fears of crime and has an amazing knack for getting news media coverage, as today's boot camp story illustrates.

http://thexofffiles.blogspot.com/2006/08/are-you-listening-sheriff-clark... Court says he can't ignore decision of County Personnel Commission