Legislation that would lock up lots more people and cost hundreds of millions of dollars to implement is headed to the governor's desk. Please contact Gov. Tony Evers and ask him to veto the "Tougher on Crime" package.
His contact info:
E-mail: EversInfo@wisconsin.gov or use the contact form here
Governor Tony Evers
115 East, State Capitol
Madison WI 53702
The ACLU of Wisconsin put together a nice summary of the bills, which is below.
AB805: Costly, Cruel, and Excessive
● What it does: AB 805 would require the Department of Corrections (DOC) to recommend revocation of probation or community supervision for merely being charged with – not necessarily convicted of – a crime, which means an individual may be sent back to prison with only a finding of “probable cause,” rather than “beyond a reasonable doubt.” The bill is unnecessary and excessive, since making such a recommendation is already an option for agents if they think the charge merits revocation. Revocations already make up the largest source of new prison admissions, with more than 3,000 revocations per year during the past several years.
● What it costs: According to the Department of Corrections’ fiscal analysis of the bill, AB805 would result in 4,672 additional people being incarcerated in state prisons at a cost of more than $156 million annually, resulting in the need to construct two new state prisons. AB 805 would also burden local taxpayers with increased jail costs, because the people held under it will be housed at local county jails at local expense.
AB 806: More Children in Cages, Not Communities
● What it does: AB 806 broadens the criteria for the Serious Juvenile Offender program – the kind of program most states have eliminated. AB 806 would result in sending more children to the troubled, failing and expensive Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake facilities which the Legislature has already voted to close – or to new, costly, unnecessary prisons. We know that incarcerating more children will not help the youth nor will it make our communities safer. Instead, widespread research and the practice of most states shows that youth outcomes improve and community safety increases when they are provided services close to their home communities and in the most family-like settings possible.
● What it costs: While DOC was not able to estimate the total fiscal impact of the bill, it costs nearly $200,000 a year to incarcerate a child in a juvenile correctional facility.
AB 808: Removing Local Control & Decision making from prosecutors
● What it does: AB 808 makes it more difficult to reduce charges in designated cases – which will only add to the state’s current prison overcrowding crisis.
● What it costs: Fiscal notes are indeterminate for the bill, but lengthening sentences will result in increasing the number of people incarcerated in Wisconsin.
AB 809: Limiting Opportunities for Rehabilitative Programs
● What it does: AB 809 prohibits early release on parole or probation for people with a broader range of felonies – even if those people have completed programming or have extraordinary health conditions. It is not sensible to keep people locked up simply because their original conviction was one of these felonies. Older people pose fewer disciplinary problems during their incarceration and reoffend at lower rates upon release. The programming offered through earned release helps people to change their behaviors before they leave prison, which makes our communities safer.
● What they cost: According to the DOC’s fiscal analysis, the cost is indeterminate for the bill, but as of June 2019, 13,912 people were eligible for the current program. Under this bill, 3,800 people would no longer be eligible for programming. By prohibiting early release for a broader range of people, this legislation will serve to exacerbate mass incarceration and cause more people to languish behind bars without appropriate treatment and programming.
AB 853: Mandatory Minimums and Incarcerating Youth
What it does: AB 853 increases penalties for a range of vehicle-related offenses and imposes harsh mandatory minimum sentences against children who commit them. The legislation requires that a person under the age of 18 found to have taken part in the theft of a vehicle, or merely for just knowingly riding in one, must serve at least 30 days in juvenile detention.
Incarceration is a deeply traumatic experience for people of all ages, but especially for youth. States across the country have made significant changes to their juvenile justice systems, dramatically reducing levels of imprisonment while shifting toward a rehabilitation-centered model. AB 853 would make Wisconsin even more of an outlier, further criminalizing and harming youth who are in need of real treatment.
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