For more than 8 years, Wisconsin has used a “truth in sentencing” policy” that has required convicts to serve their entire terms, with no early release for good behavior. As a result, the state corrections budget grew 71 percent over a decade, says the Capital Times in Madison. Says Michael Lew, a longtime corrections official who retired in 2006,”We are bankrupting ourselves.”
Now, Gov. Jim Doyle wants to give early releases to about 1,000 inmates. The plan has critics, including state Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, victim’s rights advocates and the Wisconsin Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs Association. Karen Rengert, president of the Wisconsin Victim/Witness Professionals Association, says that if the law is changed and inmates are released before they were due to get out, “we are breaking our promises to all the victims we told this to over the years.” She is concerned that victims will learn of an assailant’s early release by running into them in public.