More articles on the city’s proposed crackdown on people hanging out at State and Mifflin. There are several interesting nuggets here. Mayor Soglin places some blame on other communities and the State Department of Corrections sending parolees here after being released from prison. I’d be curious to know how widespread this practice is, but over the years I know it happens frequently. For example, I’ve seen police cruisers from Monona drive right up to the shelter and drop someone off. And just last week, I encountered a man who said he’d been released and sent to the shelter from the Parole Office. Often, there’s no alternative. Their home communities lack the resources to help them or places for them to live.
Something else I find very interesting. My sense is that the number of men coming to the Drop-In shelter this summer is down significantly from previous years. In recent days, the numbers have often dropped below fifty. There may be a couple of reasons for this. One is the limit on the length of stay (60 days, not including inclement weather). At our First Monday meal this week, we had more “walk-ins” than guests from the shelter, which suggests many are not accessing the shelter system. But that also may mean that they are not accessing the network of social service agencies that seek to help.
One simple solution, well not so simple because we’ve not been able to create one in Madison, is a day center where homeless people could spend their days and access the services they need. If there were such a facility, homeless people could go there, and the police could deal much more effectively with those who commit the crimes.
Frederick “Chile” Burton is a self-proclaimed mayor for his homeless community, even though he said not all of the people congregating in that area are homeless. Burton said with shelters shutting down during summer days, there are few other places to go.
“What are we supposed to do?” Burton asked. “We can’t go to the shelter until 7:30. At the same time, they have to come down here. They come down here where they feel comfortable at.”
Madison Mayor Paul Soglin attributes the crime surge partly to the state Department of Corrections dumping offenders released from prisons from around the state in Madison without a place to stay, stressing the shelter StSsystem.
“We plan to talk to some of the other municipalities that are using their staff, their vehicles and literally driving their residents to downtown Madison,” he said. “I’ll tell you right now we will drive them right back.”