Seal of Dane County County of Dane
Dane County District Attorney

Sentences to Jail or Prison

Jail Before Sentencing

A person arrested for allegedly committing a crime is taken to the Dane County Jail. A person who is unable to post cash bail and gain release will have a hearing before a judge or court commissioner to set bail. The judge may permit a signature bond or may require that the person post cash before being released. A person who is unable to post cash bail that has been set remains in the jail and is not permitted to leave the jail for any purpose other than emergency medical treatment. Any time spent in jail before sentencing is credited against whatever sentence is imposed for the crime if there is a sentencing.

Sentences to Jail

The judge determines the length and place of sentence, and whether the person will have work release privileges. The Dane County Sheriff, who operates the jail, determines how a jail sentence will be served. Specifically, the Sheriff determines whether all or some of the sentence will be served confined to the jail and whether some of the sentence will be served on home detention. Home detention always includes electronic monitoring.

"Good" Time

Every sentence imposed by the judge is reduced by “good time.” The amount of the reduction is set by law and equals one-quarter of the sentence. For example, a person sentenced by the judge to serve 60 days in jail will serve 45 actual days.

Huber or Work Release Privileges

A person whose sentence includes “Huber” privileges is permitted to be outside the confines of the jail for up to 12 hours each day for work, to seek work, schooling, child care, medical or other treatment. The inmate must return to the confines of the jail when the activity is concluded.

Home Detention and Electronic Monitoring

Any sentenced jail inmate may serve the sentence on home detention. Everyone on home detention is monitored electronically by a “bracelet,” which allows the Sheriff to track their location at all times. These inmates must remain at home, however, they may also have work release privileges as described above, which permit them to be away from their residence up to 12 hours a day for a designated purpose.

The intentional failure of an inmate to remain or return to the jail or, in the case of inmates on home detention, to his residence may constitute the crime of Escape. In addition, an inmate who violates home detention rules may be returned to the jail to the rest of his sentence.

Sentences to State Prison

A person sentenced to prison is turned over to the custody of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. All sentences of imprisonment consist of two parts: (1) a period of confinement, which is served in a prison, and (2) a period of extended supervision outside the prison (formerly known as parole). For example, the judge may sentence a person to ten years imprisonment, consisting of five years of initial confinement and five years of extended supervision.

The period of confinement can be lengthened by bad behavior in prison. The period of confinement may be reduced:

  • By the number of days spent in custody before sentenced was imposed;
  • If the person participates in the Earned Release Program;
  • If the person participates in Boot Camp;
  • By 25%, if the Court grants a prisoners’ petition for early release.

If confinement is reduced by any of these means, the period of extended supervision is lengthened by the same amount, so the total sentence length remains the same. One who violates the rules of extended supervision is returned to court so the judge can determine how much of the remaining sentence will be served in prison.

Information for Victims

Vine System: (877) 418-8463
Victim Information & Notification Everyday

VINE is a free, 24-hour telephone service that allows a crime victim to check on the status of an inmate in custody within the Dane County Jail system, and to register for automatic notification when an inmate is released from custody or transferred. VINE can also provide information on the inmate’s charges, bail, location in the jail, scheduled release date, and where and when an inmate was transferred. The VINE system is unable to supply information regarding if an inmate has Huber privileges or home detention on electronic monitoring. Victims should not depend solely on the VINE service for protection. If a victim believes that he or she may be at risk, he or she should take precautions as if the inmate has already been released and is able to travel freely.