Wisconsin has long had one of the country’s worst (if not the worst) racial disparities in its prison population, as well as a growing prison population and prison budget. States all across the country have found successful, bi-partisan ways to address their justice system challenges. In Wisconsin, this should begin with a focus on ending crimeless revocations; expanding release options; and reforming the rules and procedures for community supervision. Beyond the prison system, Wisconsin must engage in a substantial expansion in treatment alternatives, with special focus on community-based alternatives for individuals suffering from mental health conditions.
Wisconsin’s Juvenile Justice System is undergoing major changes. So much work remains, but the transition provides an opportunity to also bring needed reforms to our juvenile system. A first priority must be returning 17 year olds to the juvenile justice system – Wisconsin is now one of only 3 states that considers all 17 year olds adults.