Correctional officers say they support Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle’s plan to give early release to some low-risk inmates because of rising security concerns at the state’s overcrowded prisons. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the officers’ union leaders said they would be safer if inmates had an incentive to behave themselves. “There’s no incentive to do good time,” said Daniel Meehan, a Waupun Correctional Institution officer and union local president. “If I’m doing 20 years, I’m going to act the fool for 20 years.”
Doyle has proposed allowing some offenders to be released early to save money and better rehabilitate criminals. His fellow Democrats who control the Legislature have shown support for the idea, even as Republicans rip it as dangerous. Doyle’s plan focuses on nonviolent criminals, but some have criticized it for including drug offenders. A new analysis concluded that 61% of those who entered prison in 2007 did so because they had violated rules – but not broken any laws – while on probation or extended supervision. The 61% represents 5,598 new inmates. Also, the average amount of time former inmates spend on supervision more than doubled between 2000 and 2007 – from 23 months to 54 months –due to the state’s 10-year-old truth-in-sentencing law, which lawmakers passed to make sure offenders served their full sentences.