MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers and fellow Democratic lawmakers have introduced a series of proposals designed to reduce overcrowded prisons, but without support from Republican leaders they are unlikely to gain traction in the GOP-controlled Legislature.
Evers told the Wisconsin State Journal in an interview published Thursday that he hoped the bills would spur a bipartisan discussion on the need to address the state’s rising prison population, which is expected to reach 25,000 inmates by 2021. Evers campaigned on the pledge to cut the state’s prison population in half.
The bills would set incarceration limits for non-criminal supervision violations, extend earned release eligibility to include vocational or educational programs and expand on a compliance credit to allow for shortened community supervision options. The measures, introduced by Rep. Evan Goyke and Sen. Lena Taylor, both of Milwaukee, applies only to nonviolent offenders.
Setting a target prison population is not a rational or moral goal. The population of our prisons is a function of how much crime is being committed and how we choose to punish people. If we can reduce the number of crimes being committed so that the prison population declines, then great! If the prison population increases because more people are committing crimes, then so be it. But to just let criminals out on the street to commit more crimes in order to reach an arbitrary number of people in prison so that Evers can feel good is dangerous and immoral.
In my experience, the vast majority of people are decent, law-abiding folks. They might speed or double park every now and then, but they are good people. A tiny slice of the population are wretched human beings who commit the vast majority of the serious crimes. Those people are just bad, and they will continue to commit crimes for as long as they are able to because they are criminals. That’s just what criminals do. Bakers bake. Farmers farm. Drivers drive. Criminals commit crime. The only way to reduce crime is to remove the criminals from society as often as possible and for as long as possible.