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Van Hollen Participates with Local Law Enforcement Leaders, Representatives of the Wisconsin Sheriff's and Deputy Sheriff's Association and Wisconsin Victims Witness Professionals President Ms. Karen Rengert;
Calls on the Legislature to Make Public Safety Its First Priority
CAMBRIDGE - Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen participated in a press conference in Cambridge this morning with local law enforcement officials, Mr. Jeff Wiswell, representing the Wisconsin Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriff's Association, and President of the Wisconsin Victim Witness Professionals, Ms. Karen Rengert.
"Public safety is the first priority of any government. People expect to be safe in their homes, at their schools, and on their streets. And, if government can not keep them safe it can not hope to succeed in anything else it does," said Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen.
Karen Rengert, President of Wisconsin's Victim Witness Professionals said in reference to the proposed early release of prisoners in the Governor's proposed budget, "These broken promises will impact victims of crime. Changing this and making it retroactive will only cause confusion for everyone - all citizens who believe they were being protected." She thanked the Attorney General for his concern for victims of crime.
The group in Cambridge this morning, including the Attorney General, voiced concerns with specific proposals in the governor's budget including early release for convicted felons, a reduction in District Attorney's budgets and an across-the-board cut in shared revenues as the Doyle Budget grows government by nearly 8% in the first biennium.
Earlier in the week, Attorney General Van Hollen delivered a letter to Joint Finance Co-Chairs Senator Mark Miller and Representative Mark Pocan and other members of the Legislature outlining concerns with planned changes in corrections policy including earned release of felons from prison. Van Hollen noted that the rhetoric that Wisconsin's incarceration rates are out-of-control is false, as statistics show Wisconsin incarcerates 11% less of its population per capita than the national average, ranking 28th overall. At the same time, Wisconsin ranks 35th in adults under correctional control. Despite its relative low prison populations, Wisconsin ranks 9th in correctional spending.
While Van Hollen stated that undoing truth-in-sentencing by "opening up prison doors is indefensible," his letter argues that the state could (and should) invest in alternatives to incarceration in appropriate cases. Wise application of alternatives to incarcerations can assist offenders and protect public safety. But Van Hollen argued that Governor Doyle's budget proposal does not make those investments and that policies to reform the corrections system should be comprehensively addressed outside of the budget process.