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Governor Dedicates New Men's Correctional Center

Oct/12/00 - Source: Wisconsin Department of Corrections | Category: General

October 12, 2000

Governor Dedicates New Men's Correctional Center

(Milwaukee)---At a ceremony held at the site of the new facility, 2825 North 30th Street, Governor Tommy G. Thompson dedicated the new Milwaukee Men’s Correctional Center as the Felmers O. Chaney Correctional Center. Inmates began transferring to the new 100 bed institution in May from two recently-closed state facilities, the Abode at 31 North 16th Street and St. John’s Correctional Center at 845 North Van Buren Street.

"This is a facility embraced by the community," Governor Thompson said. "It is dedicated to assisting in the protection of the community and being a partner in the neighborhood. The staff here prepares offenders for their successful, crime-free return to the community."

The development, planning, and siting of the new center was a cooperative effort, involving the Department of Corrections, the Milwaukee Police Department, the County Sheriff’s office, the County Judiciary, and the Opportunities Industrialization Center of Greater Milwaukee, Inc. Several local and state elected officials were also active.

"This new facility is an example of the strong partnerships working to benefit the state of Wisconsin, the city of Milwaukee, and Milwaukee County," said Jon E. Litscher, Secretary, Wisconsin Department of Corrections.

Civic and neighborhood groups including the Sherman Park Association, the 30th Street Industrial Corridor Group, Project Return, Career Youth Development, St. Vincent DePaul, and the Wisconsin Correctional Service have also been active in the correctional center effort in Milwaukee.

All offenders incarcerated at the new Chaney Correctional Center come from the Milwaukee area and are sentenced by the Milwaukee court system. The vast majority return to their original neighborhoods.

"One of our key responsibilities is to ‘train the difficult to train’ and to ‘employ the difficult to employ,’" said Gary Davis, Superintendent, Chaney Correctional Center. "In addition to our programming at the center, we also secure supplemental social service care and provide additional programming where needed to give each offender the best opportunity to succeed in the community."

Strategically located, the facility is readily accessible to all offenders released in the Milwaukee area. It is further convenient to several probation and parole offices at Sixth & Walnut, Seventh & Wells, Capitol Drive, Holton Street, and Kenilworth Place. These offices will supervise the offenders when they are released.

"We have and will continue to contribute to a safer community," Davis said. "Our security staff moves throughout the immediate community and the surrounding area. They are trained and alert to neighborhood activities and have multiple communication tools for prompt contact with police. Our presence will enhance rather diminish safety."

The minimum-security inmates at the new institution have already begun doing community service work by cleaning, mowing, and grooming the Fond Du Lac Avenue area near the center. While at the Abode and St. John’s, the inmates had been participants in many local efforts including riverbed maintenance, tornado damage remediation, and snow removal.

"We look forward to continuing as an active and constructive participant in the community," Davis said. "We intend to be a positive influence on community development and economic growth in the area through service activities, job placements, and successful transitioning of offenders back into the community."

The new center has an active community advisory board, which has already started working on finding religious support for the center and on assembling a qualified list of providers to meet the center’s local canteen needs.

Felmers O. Chaney has a long and distinguished record of community service in the Milwaukee area. His 30-year career with the Milwaukee Police Department included becoming the first African-American Sergeant in the history of that department. He also served as director for the Better Business Bureau, the Commando Project, and USO. He was a former president of the Urban League as well as the local NAACP chapter.

Even in retirement, Chaney has remained active in community activities including acting as chairman for the community advisory board for the Milwaukee Women’s Correctional Center/Marshal E. Sherrer Correctional Center Community Advisory Board. He also remains a member of the Milwaukee Economic Development Corporation Board, Wisconsin Crime Victims Council Board, the NAACP Board, and the Urban League.

His community service work and distinguished record exemplify the purpose of correctional centers in an urban area, a commitment to the belief that people can change if they are given the opportunity, the resources, and the direction.