Wisconsin's Joint Finance Committee Discusses Criminal Justice Reform
On Thursday Wisconsin’s Joint Committee on Finance held an executive session on the state’s biennial budget. One of the biggest sections of the budget is on the state’s Department of Corrections.
For Democrats on the committee, funding programs that prevent people from being incarcerated or reincarcerated was a big focus. They said it would help decrease the cost of running correctional facilities.
Democratic Sen. LaTonya Johnson of Milwaukee said the criminal justice system has taken a toll on the state’s economy. "We can no longer continue to incarcerate over 23,000 individuals at a cost to the state,” she said. “But we can also save money and reform our criminal justice system by using evidence-based practices and allowing those individuals that can be rehabilitated outside of prison walls to be able to do so.”
Many Republicans said there has already been progress made towards reforming the criminal justice system.
Republican Sen. Mary Felzkowski of Irma agreed with Democrats that there is still progress to be made. “It's time we as a state open our eyes to what is working,” she said. “There are red states that are doing it, there are purple states that are doing that and you have seen liberal think tanks and uber-conservative think tanks with the same message. I know that I'm not alone in sharing the sentiment on the side of the aisle.”
The joint finance committee’s budget plan is expected to go to the full legislature later this month.