Friday, January 11, 2008

But By All Means, Keep That Prison Pop Climbing

One of my great frustrations still remaining when I take that last death will be my failure to make the second (but probably not last) sentencing commission work in WI when I was its director. The state’s prison pop is exponentially growing and draining that good state’s resources wastefully at a time when it needs to be revamping its famous “Wisconsin Way.” And one of the worst things was watching its policymakers [sic] fumble while the areas of crim just that really could make an impact on reducing crime and victims were getting the financial shaft while decisionmakers machoed around talking tough with less effective prison policy. Things like adequate funding for law enforcement and juv just and, as in this story, enough and qualified prosecutors. Milwaukee is the last place in this solar system that should be robbing prosecutor Peter to pay prison Paul, but that’s what they’re doing, in large part because of active opposition to any sensible sentencing reform and alternative sanctions coming from too many Milwaukee judges. The opponents (not all Milwaukee judges) will look you straight in the eye and tell you how that opposition is for the good of the state, but it’s not. It’s for the good of them, and their legacy is written in the pages of the Journal Sentinel every day. They need, for once, to listen to their more in-tune brethren and stop this defunding of all the things vital to public safety rather than insisting that their traditional and self-serving perspectives are the most important thing. Good luck to the Milwaukee prosecutors, but somehow I don’t see the funding coming given the fiscal state of that state. And there are too many good people in that state who don’t deserve this.

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