I’ve been amazed at the lack of Democratic responses to the obvious fear tactics of the Republican Party. The GOP has successfully portrayed themselves as tough on crime, while cutting beat cops and whining about the inevitable slow responses by police to 911 calls. Oddly, and according to plan, the cop shortfall allows them to push concealed carry laws to compensate for the cuts in law enforcement.
Wisconsin’s Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen’s tough on crime position is a thinly veiled taxpayer supported campaign ad. An expensive one to boot and one conservatives are more than willing to pay billions to support. Van Hollen’s memo to police departments that publicly encourages every gun nut to openly carry a weapon has angered law enforcement and could possibly create chaos. WPT's Here and Now with Frederica Freyberg had a field day:
The West Allis gun advocate Brad Krause made this pleasant easygoing observation that carrying a gun creates a "...wise and consistent state of peace."
According to former Milwaukee cop and now Democratic State Rep. Leon Young, on Van Hollen's open carry advocacy, "He's the top guy...he has a possibility of creating chaos, and as an elected official we should try to create peace and hope...!"
Jim Fendry, of the Wisconsin Pro Gun Movement, backs Van Hollen's inflammatory position that carrying a gun by itself is not a crime, but then goes on in frightening detail about coming across a person with a gun and the possible public safety danger they might pose. It's a mind blowing contrast of ideas Fendry didn't bother to notice.
Mandatory Sentencings/taxpayer dollar black hole-Wisconsin State Journal:
Calling himself the voice of public safety for Wisconsin, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said that Gov. Jim Doyle's proposal to release an estimated 3,000 offenders to help balance the state budget shows the Democratic governor's skewed priorities. "Public safety should be the first call on our government coffers … but if we don't spend enough money on public safety, nothing else really matters." But Van Hollen's remarks ran counter to most of the speakers in a two-day seminar in Madison on Wisconsin's corrections system, which has grown fivefold in the past 30 years.
What Van Hollen’s doesn’t mention is the overwhelming evidence against his outdated, emotionally charged call to “hang tough,” and the escalating unnecessary cost to taxpayers.
Marshall Clement, director of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative, which recently completed a study of Wisconsin's corrections system, said the $29,000 a year the state spends on inmates has failed to reduce crime or the percentage of people who re-offend — roughly 38 percent within three years. "For what you're spending on prisons, $1.2 billion a year, you're not getting a very good return on investment," Clement said. The study recommends boosting community supervision and shortening sentences for good behavior, among other strategies.
Todd Cleary, a professor at John Jay College in New York, one of the sponsors of the seminar, said high incarceration rates cut crime — for a while. But crime goes back up, he said, because of the damage that imprisonment does to families and communities. "The first effect is things get better," Cleary said. "But the long-term effect is that things get worse."
(Former Republican sheriff and district attorney in Dane County) Corrections secretary Rick Raemisch said that Wisconsin's prison system is "broken" and includes mentally ill, drug- and alcohol-addicted and elderly inmates — some of whom, he said, shouldn't be there … Many other inmates are nonviolent offenders who could be released early on supervision. "I'm hard-core law and order," he said. "I walk through these prisons. I see all these young men and I say, 'What are we doing?'
Several speakers said a barrier to reforming the state's corrections policies is that such reform has become highly politicized in recent years. Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk said (when she) ran unsuccessfully for attorney general against Van Hollen in 2006 … Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce spent millions of dollars to convince voters that she was "soft on crime." "Fears and phobias drive policies instead of facts," Falk said.
Said State Public Defender Nicholas Chiarkis: "Tough on criminals sometimes is stupid on crime."
But before we get too caught up in all latest research and facts that refute the more guttural reaction:
But State Rep. Joel Kleefisch, R-Oconomowoc, said, "Democrats are trying to see what they can do to help criminals instead of seeing what we can do to help victims."
That assumes Democrats don’t care about crime victims and their own families safety. Which we all know is true, right Republicans? Hey, didn't you guys oppose the Community Oriented Policing Services, or COPS grant program, that put 50,000 officers on the streets? (Bush) argued that it was not cost-effective. Prisons are?