Milwaukee County leads Wisconsin in the rate at which it sends defendants to prison for low-level, non-violent, drug-related offenses, says the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Judges told told researchers they hated relying on prisons so heavily but lacked other options. The newspaper editorializes that “Wisconsin’s practice of putting large numbers of non-violent offenders behind bars is wreaking all manner of havoc. It is pauperizing the state, weakening inner city families and neighborhoods, ruining the job prospects of many residents and making hardened criminals out of low-level offenders.”
Wisconsin has allocated an insufficient amount for drug treatment, says the Journal Sentinel. The study by an oranization called Justice Strategies recommends putting in an additional $22 million a year. The study identified 2,900 prison inmates with low-level, non-violent offenses and sparse criminal records. Taxpayers are keeping them in prison at a cost of $83 million a year. Treatment and supportive services would cost taxpayers just $23 million a year and be much more effective in cutting recidivism, says the Journal Sentinel. Wisconsin leads the Midwest in per-capita expenditures for corrections. Minnesota spends half as much as Wisconsin does.