Sheriff Clarke Just Signed on to Homeland Security Gig — But Trouble Could Follow Him From Milwaukee

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, who has been a vocal supporter of President Donald Trump since early in the campaign, has long been rumored to be in consideration for a position within the Trump administration.

On Thursday, the Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reported that the rumors were true:

Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. will leave the office next month to accept a federal appointment as an Assistant Secretary in the Department of Homeland Security.

He will work in the department’s Office of Partnership and Engagement as a liaison with state, local and tribal law enforcement and governments.

While the position for which Clarke has been selected does not require Senate confirmation, he may yet have one hurdle to get past — an investigation is ongoing concerning Terrill Thomas, an inmate who died in a Milwaukee County jail last year.

Business Insider reported:

A Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel reporter present at the inquest wrote that prosecutors showed a six-person jury how, along with policy violations and disregard for Thomas’ mental illness, “inattentiveness by corrections officers led to Thomas’ death.”

Benkley told the court that three officers turned off Thomas’ water as punishment for flooding his cell and never turned it on or notified a supervisor of their actions.

“This order to shut off Mr. Thomas’ water was highly irregular and contrary to standard operating procedure in the jail,” said Benkley, adding that Thomas never received any liquids with his meals after the water was shut off.

The Journal Sentinel reported that the same day Thomas died, another inmate managed to attempt to hang himself twice:

“To me, that sounds like a significant security breach, and it’s something that shouldn’t happen,” said Martin Drapkin, who trained jail officers for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections before retiring in 2010. “One way or another, it’s the responsibility of jail staff to be sure that such breaches don’t happen. It’s doing your job as a supervisor.”
Winston’s suicide attempts, which are documented in jail and medical records obtained by the Journal Sentinel, add to the list of issues found at the jail run by Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. Those problems were highlighted last month during an inquest into the April 2016 death of Thomas, who went seven days without water because of blunders by jail staff.

The inquest jury recommended charges against seven jail employees over the death of Thomas, citing a statute that makes mistreatment of prisoners a felony. District Attorney John Chisholm refused to comment on whether Sheriff Clarke might eventually be charged in conjunction with the others.

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