A Wisconsin program allowing some nonviolent offenders to seek early release from prison, which Republican critics derided as “catch and release,” would end under Gov. Scott Walker’s new budget plan, reports the Wisconsin State Journal. The program of former Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle was designed to reduce ballooning prison costs by releasing up to 3,000 inmates early — most of them with significant health problems or close to completing their sentences. Just 391 inmates were released under the program from Oct. 1, 2009, to Jan. 1, 2011.
Walker’s budget calls for a $90.1 million cut to the $1.3 billion corrections budget next year, followed by a $26.2 million cut from current spending in fiscal year 2012-13. The department would lose 341 full-time positions from its current staffing of 10,594. Much of the job loss would be felt in juvenile corrections, which has seen a reduction in offenders for the past decade. Corrections Secretary Gary Hamblin said the department would close two juvenile facilities. The budget would provide an extra $1 million over the next two years to add 19 staff members to the Internet Crimes Against Children program, one of Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen’s top initiatives.