Faced with heavy workloads and short staffing, Wisconsin’s probation and parole program has been falling short on monitoring offenders and offering them rehabilitation resources, according to a nonpartisan legislative audit published Friday.
Auditors found that the Department of Corrections, which also oversees the state’s substantially understaffed prisons, has not completed required risk assessments or investigations of people on release or probation quickly enough. The agency also did not adequately review the penalties it imposed on people who violated the terms of their release to see which consequences were most effective at preventing re-offense, auditors said.
More than 63,000 people are part of Wisconsin’s community corrections program. Most are on probation, meaning they were sentenced to supervision instead of prison time, or on extended supervision, which is served after release from prison.
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Some people receive services such as housing assistance or treatment for substance abuse through the program, but corrections agents said they believed many people under their supervision weren’t getting the help they needed — especially in areas including child and health care, education and mental health.
According to the audit, corrections staff didn’t have a central database to track whether people fulfilled the treatments or programs they were required to complete,
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