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Kenosha County Is A Leader In The State For Sending People To Prison – Why?

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https://doc.wi.gov/Pages/DataResearch/PrisonAdmissions.aspx

Wisconsin has sent 3,152 people to prison From April 1, 2023 to March 31, 2024. For the sake of this discussion, we are talking about “new sentences” only – not any other reason, such as probation and extended supervision revocations.

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KCE often refers to the Kenosha County DA’s office as “soft on crime.” That doesn’t sit well with Kenosha’s District Attorney, Michael Graveley (D). He believes KCE is cherry-picking data and challenged KCE to use objective data and he showed us how to look at the prison entries. Here are the numbers:

Top 10 Populous Counties in Wisconsin

Kenosha County is #1, per capita, in sending folks to prison for the last year per DOC’s data. That is the objective data. The question is “Why?” To answer this question, we asked the DA’s office, the Kenosha Police Department, and the Kenosha Sheriff’s Department – the County’s two largest departments, and Kenosha’s Defense attorneys. We also spoke to one of DA Graveley’s seasoned ADAs.

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Sgt Colin Coultrip – Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department Spokesman
(File Photo By Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Kenosha County Sheriff

“The Kenosha County Sheriff’s Office is committed to pursuing criminals who prey on our community. The Sheriff’s Office strives to work diligently and aggressively to make solid and prosecutable cases utilizing every resource of our Detective Bureau and Patrol Deputies to hold criminals accountable. In 2023, Sheriff David Zoerner added a 2nd Shift Detective Bureau to continue investigations and support our mission to the Kenosha County community at all hours of the day. Our Detectives continue to work with task forces with the DEA, ATF, HSI, and numerous other federal task forces to further assist in making prosecutable cases.

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Kenosha County, as a whole, is a top law enforcement community in the State. Between the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Office, City of Kenosha Police, Village of Pleasant Prairie Police, and all others, not many other counties have law enforcement agencies that can work so well together to make “slam dunk” cases for our District Attorney’s Office. The Kenosha County Sheriff’s Office continues to keep the highest training standards and expectations in our employees so our community is best served! We expect the best and put forth the effort and time to be sure our staff has the skills and knowledge to refer cases to our DA’s office that will not be dismissed. Citizens of Kenosha County, we are committed to you and we are committed to holding felons accountable for their actions.”

Sgt. Cory Brennan – Kenosha Police Spokesman

Kenosha Police Department

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“It’s a team effort. No case goes from the commission of a crime to a conviction without it truly being a team effort between law enforcement and prosecutors,” said Kenosha Police Sergeant Cory Brennan.

Brennan also told KCE that with homicides and other serious crimes, the police department has been working more closely with the DA to update them regularly. 

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“Law enforcement’s job is to gather the evidence, facts, and statements. Is up to the DA to present all of the information gathered to a jury to obtain in a conviction.” Brennan also tells KCE that the DA’s office has looped in patrol officers and detectives when making sentencing decisions. “Police are just affected as the public is when they are victims of crimes.” Even when the police are not victims, but are helping victims of crimes they have a vested interest in the outcomes. The DA’s office has given Kenosha Police a bigger seat at the table for the court process. The DA’s office has done a good job keeping Kenosha Police in the loop. “The KPD officers and the detective bureaus are extremely dedicated to solving crimes. They engage in relentless pursuit of the truth. That is why we are successful,” said Brennan.

Jessica Krejcarek – Long Time Assistant District Attorney
(File Photo By Kevin Mathewson, Kenosha County Eye)

Kenosha County DA’s Office

ADA Jessica Krejcarek has been a prosecutor with the Kenosha County District Attorney’s Office for over 10 years.

“I think that a lot of folks are going to prison because we’ve created a perfect storm here in Kenosha County – especially with the specialist positions. We also have good judges in the criminal rotation. In the DA’s office there is very little turnover,” said Krejcarek. There is an ADA assigned specifically to sexual assault cases in two ADAs specifically assigned to gun crimes. “Law enforcement is bringing in the DA’s office earlier and earlier,” said Krejcarek.

Krejcarek mentioned a recent homicide case in which the defendant was found guilty and gave credit to the fact that the DA’s office was looped in very early by the Kenosha Police Department. 

Krejcarek says you will not see simple possessions or second and subsequent positions of marijuana cases having defendants being sent to prison. “I can’t really recall any marijuana deliveries in recent history being sent to prison.”

“DA Gravely is not a micromanager and that is the best part of working here. We’re trusted to do our job professionally and well. Our bosses are our resources.”

Kenosha Defense Bar

KCE spoke to many defense attorneys who opined on this issue. “Kenosha County is sending a lot of people to prison, but they’re the wrong kind of people,” one lawyer told KCE. “People who should be getting probation are going to prison and people who should be going to prison are getting probation. The office is very inconsistent.”

Other attorneys told KCE that the DA’s office is very tough on crime. Some attorneys told us that the caliber of law enforcement in Kenosha County is a big contributor to the prison sentences. The police and sheriff’s departments both have specialized investigative units within their departments that target the most serious types of crimes.

“The reason why Kenosha County sends many people to prison is due to a combination of the judiciary, DA’s Office, law enforcement, and even the community,” said a Kenosha area law enforcement officer. “We all work together to put the bad guys away.”

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59 Responses

  1. I think there’s another factor: proximity. Kenosha historically has been a high crime community — even back in the 1800s. The Chicago to Milwaukee corridor is an issue and prosecutors, police and judges know it.

  2. This says more about conviction rate than it does tough on crime. Sure, it’s easy to convict when most, if not all the defendants are poor and don’t have the Rittenhouse bankroll.

    It’s easy to point out what truth in sentencing has done to the conviction rate also.

    Grab another jailhouse snitch or recorded phone call of the defendant, and away you go.

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      1. I see the hypocrisy in this stating that the sheriffs and please work with the DA if that were the case half of these cases wouldn’t even make it to court for lack of evidence and then you have judges who are biased on court cases and we all know the DAs are just trying to put a notch in their belt for a conviction. if people were smart they would avoid the state of Kenosha altogether

      2. I see the hypocrisy in this stating that the sheriffs and police work with the DA if that were the case half of these cases wouldn’t even make it to court for lack of evidence and then you have judges who are biased on court cases and we all know the DAs are just trying to put a notch in their belt for a conviction. if people were smart they would avoid the City of Kenosha altogether. We see how they let a murderer go.

    1. Your statement just goes to show you how you’re not paying attention, It clearly stated that Kenosha has the highest conviction rate yeah they’re soft on crime if you’re people like KR anyone else it’s bye-bye.

  3. “People who should be getting probation are going to prison and people who should be going to prison are getting probation. The office is very inconsistent.” This is spot on. This is what Kenoshans see.

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    1. Look up how many people are put on probation and get locked up again because they can’t follow simple rules: no drinking, no drugs, get a job, don’t commit crimes.

      Probation does nothing but let someone out of well deserved punishment.

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  4. What about all the criminals they let back on the streets? Doesn’t matter if you throw someone in prison if they get out the next day.

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      1. Jail, prison, whatever. same shit. If they get out of jail too quick, the likelihood that they end up in prison is higher, no?

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  5. I think there is another side to this: sending someone to prison is often a sign of failure. Why? Because it means the system failed to address the problem before it got worse. Unless you do something really heinous you don’t get to the joint in Wisconsin unless you earn it. Probation is often a joke and sometimes the wrong people are placed on probation — either because they should have gone straight to jail or prison or maybe they don’t need probation services.

    A good example of this is John Steinbrink, jr. What I am about to say is NOT a defense of him or what he did. The man has a college degree, ran a business and, except for his nonviolent shenanigans at Pleasant Prairie public works, was law abiding with no prior criminal record. The fact he’s a schmuck doesn’t factor into this. What “correctional needs” does he have that will waste the time of probation officers and resources of the department of corrections? The truth is — and I say this having worked in corrections many years ago — they don’t know what to do with guys like him. The vast majority of offenders have significant criminal histories, alcohol and/or drug problems and have not led productive lives. Jr. wasn’t grooming or sexually abusing kids. Frankly, if he had been in front of Judge Schroeder, he very well might have received some straight jail time and a huge fine. Like it or not, that’s reality, even if he is a schmuck.

    What people really need to see is the mess that the juvenile justice system is in. If we actually did something earlier we might not have to spend the big bucks later.

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    1. Steinbrink got a sweetheart deal because of his daddy. Let’s not forget he stole money from every taxpayer in the village, that should be theft charges! Better yet let’s have daddy refund village taxpayers for his kids stealing from everyone?

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      1. The deal Steinbrink got is not the issue. The point is that he’s wasted time on a probation agent’s caseload.

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          1. You’re missing the point. The question is not merely about what kind of inconvenience or punishment we want to inflict on a convicted criminal, it is about how we are utilizing county resources and for what goal we want to accomplish.

            If you’re putting a guy like Steinbrink on probation just to stick it to the guy, despite the fact that there’s little to no chance he does any of the things probation is meant to prevent anyways, then you’re saying we should waste the county’s time and money to make ourselves feel better about what he did rather than actually keep the community safe.

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            1. You must be Steinbrink Jr. only friend!!!! Want to give Jr. the chance to steal again before you change your mind about him? Remember the Menards rebates that was stealing, Right?

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              1. OMG! Stop the presses!!! Murders. Fentanyl deaths. Chases, drunk, and reckless drivers. Drug dealing. Shootings. And you’re sweating over Menards rebates? Get a life dude and some treatment for your rectal-cranial inversion.

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              2. Do you think that taking monthly drug tests with a probation officer is not “giving him a chance to steal again?”

                Your outlook is childish and based on emotional whimsy. Nothing more.

      2. The sweetheart deal was to dismiss the felonies and just issue the misdemeanors. Not everyone would get this type of deal. Daddy did pull his favors in.

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    2. No sexual assaults we know, but even committing adultery in WI is a felon( look it up, it’s true…watch out all you married people!), but his engineering degree is fake. He had one of the employees take his engineering test, Stole hundreds of thousands of money from Pleasant Prairie residences, along with retaliating against those employees who didn’t comply with the illegal activity that he wanted them to do by firing them! He deserves prison. But if it helps you out, you will probably be happy he most likely will be out on an ankle monitor to meet up with you for coffee! Are you not reading KCE highly investigative reporting on Steinbrink.Jr for the last couple years? SMH!

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      1. He was not convicted of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars. That’s what they have to go by. I don’t like him either but your vitriol misses the point that he is not a danger to community safety. I would have just fined him the max and given some jail time straight up.

  6. If you dig deeper, most convictions with a felony have a pre-sentence investigaton (PSI) written. The DOC completes the report. Kenosha County judges love them and have highest usage in the state (or at least previously were the highest). It would be interesting to know how many are prison recommendations versus probation and if DOC is partly the reason Kenosha is highest per capita new admissions.

  7. For somebody who kills a person with fentanyl to rob them, and then claims they’re good samaritan rights …and then rats out the notorious drug dealer and inturn gets a plea deal, and get out of jail card, when that person is the direct murderer! I don’t see how that is fair …that person should be locked away in jail for life!!! No but, instead all they get is stinking probation, and they keep violating, and they are dangerous and hurt everyone in their path, and are continual repeaters and keeps going in and out of jail! CAN SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME HOW THIS IS EVEN ALLOWED?!?!

    1. He who tells first wins with these tough on crime investigators. Wins big league. Bring some receipts!

  8. Shouldn’t the figure be measured by prison admissions versus prison eligible crimes? The above means little to a Kenosha victim.

    1. You good with that? Publish your name so the state can tax you at a higher rate than the rest of us. And don’t tell me about their free cable TV and other benefits they receive in state prison because they don’t! Are you aware of the federal investigation at Waupun? 11 prison guards were either walked out or suspended for improper behavior.

      Sound familiar? 4 deaths last year alone in Waupun. Let’s talk about where this all starts folks…. The pipeline from public school to prison is enormous. I’d love to see the age breakdown for each case. 18-25, 26-40 and above 40. My guess is most are in the first category.

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  9. Or maybe people know that if they commit a serious crime in Kenosha that they have a 50/50 shot of getting literally no prison time thus Kenosha is the place to commit your crime.

    This isn’t to mention all the Illinois people we get up here.

    In other words, this stat doesn’t at all mean Kenosha is “tough” on crime.

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  10. The sheriffs department throws the book at everyone to get as many charges as they can to stick. Most can’t afford a decent lawyer so they plea. You are guilty until proven innocent and the deputies (maybe not all) can be lazy and don’t ask any questions, just assume the accuser is being truthful or write a ticket without doing their due dilligence. The more convictions they get the more funding they get. It’s a game. Everyone supports the blue line but the blue line won’t hesitate to destroy your life. Once trusted, never again.

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    1. Well said. Everyone is “tough on crime” until they or someone they know is prosecuted for a crime they didn’t commit. Just being charged can ruin your life. Google Tyler Tess

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    1. We shouldn’t have cash bail. The justice system shouldn’t have different outcomes based on how much money you make. If someone is a danger to the community, bail can be denied outright. It shouldn’t be about money.

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        1. Youll only know when you are falsely accused, your mug shot is all over the internet, you sit in the clink, spend $1000s on defense attorney only for the Detectives/DA to realize the accuser is a lying nut bag and then release you.

          Unfortunately, Malicious prosecution by known nut jobs is okay and there is no crime in accusing. Accusers should spend the time in jail for the crime they are accusing of when it’s found they are lying.

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  11. District attorneys and most judges = nerds who were not invited to parties in high school. Thus they don’t want anyone partying and having fun..
    Ergo they love locking up “drug dealers”.
    Everyone who shares drugs is a “drug dealer” by the time the tough guys (pussies) in the drug unit scare weak men and women into setting up their friends with controlled buys.
    People want to party and if they turn themselves into victims that is their fault.
    There are guardianships and mental health laws so you can call the court system if your friend or relative can’t handle their shit.

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  12. Some of what is mentioned is true.

    Kyle Rittenhouse, arrested/charged.

    Yet, ALL the BLM thugs and Anitifa democrat goons were arrested, BUT NOT CHARGED. Most if not all, of the arrests were expunged and Soros’ little army had all their criminal records cleared.

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  13. Seeing as the Milwaukee DA’s office doesn’t even prosecute 60% of the felony cases that police send them, they could/should be way higher.

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    1. That’s generally what they’re supposed to do. The threshold for conviction is beyond a reasonable doubt. If the prosecutors themselves don’t feel certain, they shouldn’t waste time and money pursuing it.

    1. That must be the 2 thumbs down from the 2 anonymous people having a conversation amongst themselves. It’s just easier to know who is saying what. Please give yourself a name.

  14. All these new warehouses that are being built all over Kenosha county should be prisons. Less pollution than semis traveling our roads. Plenty of room…600k to 900k sq.ft. Lots of space for 8×10 cells.

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  15. Execute them. Most of these “people” have been arrested and sentenced numerous times. Why waste time and money on assholes that can’t comprehend right from wrong, human from animal.

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  16. Thank you for a very interesting article. However, there’s a few questions I would ask of the data before trying to draw any conclusions.
    First: Was last year an anomaly, or was it typical? Looking at the data over the last five years would give a better picture of the situation.
    Second: How many of those 150 who were sent to prison were residents of Kenosha County? Does the rate of imprisonment reflect a serious social problem in Kenosha County, or is Kenosha simply a venue for crimes committed by people from elsewhere? Or both?
    Third: How does the rate of imprisonment compare with other counties for similar crimes? In other words, is the rate of imprisonment due to people being sentenced more heavily here than in other counties?
    Fourth: How does the rate of imprisonment compare with the rate of crime? In other words, are we sending more people to prison because more serious crimes are being committed here?
    Again, thanks for thought-provoking piece of journalism.

  17. We have more peeps in prison and less on the streets. I feel safer. No issue with the highest incarceration rate if bad guys are gone!

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