Wisconsin GOP Advances Bills to Put More in Prison

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Republicans who control the Wisconsin Assembly passed a string of crime bills Tuesday they said would keep the state safer and put more people behind bars but cost hundreds of millions of dollars, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Some efforts to address crime have backing in the Senate, but it’s unclear if the most expensive piece of legislation can pass that house. And all the measures could face vetoes from Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who hopes to cut the state prison population in half over the coming years. Democrats argued Wisconsin Republicans were out of step with their counterparts elsewhere, noting President Donald Trump and GOP lawmakers in other states have embraced poicies to limit mandatory minimum sentences and allow the early release of more inmates.

“This is the last gasp of the tough-on-crime era in Wisconsin,” said Democratic Rep. Evan Goyke of Milwaukee. GOP Rep. Joe Sanfelippo of New Berlin said victims and people living in neighborhoods with high crime “expect the criminal justice system to take care of them as well — not just worry about the criminals.” He asked, “Who’s speaking up for the victims?” Crime in Milwaukee is down. Last year was the second in a row with fewer than 100 homicides in the city. Nonfatal shootings and carjackings also dropped. One bill passed would require the Department of Corrections to recommend revoking extended supervision, probation and parole for those who are charged with committing felonies or violent misdemeanors while on court supervision. That would lead to judges sending more of those offenders back to prison while their new cases moved through the courts.

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