Magazine article Corrections Forum

Meritless Investigation of Corrections Officers

Magazine article Corrections Forum

Meritless Investigation of Corrections Officers

Article excerpt

Wisconsin prison inmates are using-and many say abusing-an unusual, 168-year-old law to spark often meritless investigations of correctional officers, tying up courts, and creating new headaches for officers. Under the state's John Doe law, citizens can force judges to hold hearings by sending them letters alleging a crime has been committed. The judge must take testimony from the person who sent the letter and any witnesses he or she produces-even if it's immediately clear that the complaint is baseless. Complainants also have the power to subpoena witnesses to testify.

"It's a kind of a perversion of the system," says Dodge County Circuit Judge Andrew P. Bissonnette.

Judges in Dodge County, home to four state penal institutions, get about 30 requests a year for John Doe hearings from inmates. …

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