Beau Jammes sat inside Dodge Correctional Institution, a maximum security prison in Waupun. It was late March 2018, and he was 25 years old.
Jammes looked at the form before him, picked up a pen and began to write: “Judge Vincent R Biskupic unlawfully stayed a portion of my jail sentence for 19 months.”
The complaint to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin requested lost wages, employment and housing, along with “mental stress” and “pain and suffering.”
The young man elaborated later in an amended complaint. On lined paper in a dark, squat script, he wrote that the Outagamie County judge had placed him “on a de facto term of probation … in order to monitor my behaviors.” It was, Jammes alleged, “illegal.”
Jammes’ case was among 31 such cases between 2014 and 2020 in which a Wisconsin Watch investigation found Biskupic offered to stay or furlough defendants’ jail time if they complied with his conditions.
A stay formally pauses or postpones a person’s sentence. State law restricts judges’ ability to issue them. A furlough allows an incarcerated person to temporarily leave confinement to attend events such as funerals.
Biskupic’s supervision departed from traditional probation overseen by the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. It is not spelled out in state law and has no sunset period. Several attorneys said they consider these arrangements advantageous. Others argued they make defendants vulnerable to uncertainty through shifting…