Keep two things in mind in assessing the consensus among Democratic gubernatorial candidates — and, apparently, former Governor Tommy Thompson — that Wisconsin incarcerates too many criminals.
- In 1990, there were 215,000 crimes reported in Wisconsin. Last year the total was 123,388.
- In 1990 Wisconsin prisons housed 7,332 inmates. At the start of this year the number was 23,200.
In other words, the expansion of Wisconsin’s inmate population coincides with a 43 percent reduction in crimes reported by the FBI. Research documents a causal link between reduced crime rates and the incarceration of serious, repeat offenders. The staggering cost of crime to victims is obviously much less, a factor almost never mentioned when discussing the higher costs of incarceration.
It is amazing how many crimes are committed by a few people. Very few people just commit one crime, but almost all crimes are committed by a very few people.