Monday, January 29, 2007

How To Guarantee Future Crime

The financial crisis in WI, caused in no small part by adopting a policy that required 100% of sentence served and then a period of "extended supervision" that turned out as long as or longer than the original incarceration, thus blowing their prisons out their wazoo, has led the state to a couple of very sad, long-term decision points. Here, the state's likely to cut a program with demonstrated success boosting the scores of poor and minority students. Here, the state's likely to cut more than 56,000 youngsters off subsidized child care. Save the money now, pay it quadruple a decade or so from now. The state is looking at a future like TX's, where, coincidentally, they have a state dropout rate of 33% but, God knows, they've got the prisons WI aspires to. The problem for WI is that TX has almost hit bottom and at least recognizes somewhat the need to start flapping its wings, weakly and with dead weight still to dispatch. WI still has far too many people deluding themselves that it is what it was a few decades ago, that it can indulge old vanities like "policymakers can't say what sentences should be," and won't start flapping seriously for several more years yet. It will be interesting to see what happens if/when WI passes TX on its way finally heading back up.

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