Here in Wisconsin, we have a crisis in our criminal justice system. We spend more money on locking people up than we do on our university system, we cram people into overcrowded jails, and we strip people of hope. This system also disproportionately locks up young people of color and gives them more extreme punishments. This must stop!
We can be smart and tough on crime and still differentiate between violent and non-violent offenders, and every conviction should not be a life sentence. We need to put in place effective programs that give people a second chance at life by providing access to the training and treatment programs that they need to go onto productive lives.
In more than two decades as a politician, Walker hasn’t looked for solutions like these. As a state representative, Walker helped to create what he now admits is a “monster” by authoring or co-authoring 27 bills that either expanded the definitions of crimes, increased mandatory minimums, or limited parole. Now, rather than working on the crisis he helped to create, Gov. Walker chose to ignore the problem, and instead lock people up and throw away the key at the taxpayer’s expense.
The youth detention facility Lincoln Hills is a perfect recent example. Correctional officers and youth detainees at Lincoln Hills have been subjected to unsafe, unhealthy, and unproductive conditions for more than six years. Workers at Lincoln Hills have blown the whistle on the crisis there since Walker took office, and he chose to do nothing until now — an election year — and still, it’s unclear whether he’s sincere about following through with real changes on a timely basis.
It’s time to stop playing games and find real solutions to the tough issues facing our state. As your next governor, Andy Gronik will:
- Review the criminal justice system and adapt models working around the country;
- Work with the Department of Corrections to establish uniform revocation standards;
- Scrutinize legislation so it addresses public safety without continuing failed policies;
- Support parole officers with better training and specialized parole officers for inmates with mental health disorders;
- Reform our youth detention system and address Lincoln Hills immediately;
- Properly fund parole boards to consider, on a timely basis, parole for inmates incarcerated under the “old law;”
- Stop locking people up for non-violent crimes by redirecting them to alternative treatment programs;
- Support legalization of marijuana and put it on the ballot as a statewide referendum;
- Create realistic early release programs by increasing the capacity of treatment and education programs to eliminate wait lists;
- Reduce recidivism by creating a system of rehabilitation that includes job training and sets people up for success after they have served their time;
- Establish uniform crimeless revocation standards so people are not imprisoned without new convictions;
- Restore local control so low-level offenders can participate in community-based programming;
- Sufficiently shrink the prison population to eliminate Walker’s practice of shipping roughly 5,000 inmates out-of-state to private prisons at the cost of nearly $45 million to Wisconsin taxpayers.