Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Repealing the Successful Early Release Program will Cost Wisconsin Taxpayers Money, Thanks to Scaredy-cat Republicans.

Awhile back I remember reading how successful the early release program was, repealed by our fear mongering Walker administration, and how so few "criminals" were reoffenders. Low and behold, someone else beat me to the punch by doing the needed homework. 

Cap Times-PAUL FANLUND: Former Gov. Jim Doyle and his fellow soft-hearted, liberal Democrats had passed a law that let dangerous criminals out of prison early to threaten and terrorize us. So the GOP, the self-proclaimed party of common sense and decade-long champion of so-called "truth-in-sentencing" laws, stepped in to make it right.

Assembly Majority Leader Scott Suder, a sponsor who was on hand for the Eau Claire event: "Early release has allowed hundreds of high-risk inmates to get out of jail before serving their time, and Wisconsin will undoubtedly be a safer place to live, work and raise a family now that dangerous criminals will be kept behind bars where they belong. Hundreds of dangerous criminals have been given a ‘get out of jail free card' -- including repeat drunk drivers, drug dealers and even a convicted murderer."

The event seemed to succeed, judging by statewide media coverage that largely left the GOP version of things unchallenged. The entire GOP framing, as with so many things in recent months, is somewhere on the continuum between a gross distortion and, well, an outright lie … the facts directly contradict the breathless GOP condemnation of the earned-release program.

Numbers from the Department of Corrections … 608 prisoners released early under the program … About two-thirds were already in minimum-security, often on work release …. Exactly four individuals who were released under the program eventually were sentenced to prison for new crimes. That's right. Four.

Their crimes? Two were for driving while intoxicated, one on a drug possession and one for theft. Yeah, about that murderer … it appears a woman who had been convicted of second-degree reckless homicide was released 16 months ago for medical reasons … (a) process for elderly and terminally ill prisoners already existed in Wisconsin.

Rick Raemisch, who was secretary of the Department of Corrections says the program resulted in a reduction of 65,948 "bed days," or more than 180 years worth. The strategies were adopted (from) Texas, says Raemisch, and Doyle actually dialed back some aspects of the release strategy he found overly ambitious.

 Raemisch says "We should go to the Capitol and turn Miss Forward around."  

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