December 31, 2008
Wisconsin leaders ESTABLISH BIPARTISAN COMMITTEE to ANALYZE prison growth, crime and recidivism
Committee to receive technical assistance from national organization
The Joint Legislative Council has announced the formation of the Special Committee on Justice Reinvestment Oversight, a bipartisan, inter-branch body that will examine why Wisconsin’s prison population is growing and how the state can reduce recidivism and increase public safety.
The new committee will receive technical assistance from the Council of State Governments Justice Center (“Justice Center”), a national nonprofit organization that provides practical, nonpartisan advice and consensus-driven strategies to create safer and stronger communities. Governor James Doyle, Wisconsin Supreme Court Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson, Senate President Fred Risser, and outgoing Assembly Speaker Michael Huebsch requested earlier this year that the Justice Center help Wisconsin improve the effectiveness of its criminal justice system.
Chair Sen. Lena C. Taylor (D-Milwaukee) and Vice Chair Rep. Joel Kleefisch (R–Oconomowoc) will lead the newly established committee of policymakers and stakeholders to review criminal justice data and develop policy options that can be advanced by legislative action. (Study committee membership list is attached.)
“I am honored to chair the committee overseeing the Justice Reinvestment Initiative,” Sen. Taylor said. “Our committee is charged with redirecting the focus of our justice system in a sensible, data-driven manner that will build consensus across our state. With the troubled economic times Wisconsin is facing, it will take leadership, vision, and best practices to change the outcomes of our criminal justice system so that we can produce rapid savings and returns, save human capital, reduce recidivism, and improve public safety.”
“Under the budget stress Wisconsin is facing, this committee has a significant opportunity to pursue cost-effective options to improve public safety, reduce recidivism, and increase accountability for how taxpayer dollars are spent,” Rep. Kleefisch said. “The prison population and spending on corrections have grown considerably, and before that continues, we must make sure our resources are having the greatest impact on public safety in our communities.”
Funding support for the Justice Center’s assistance to Wisconsin policymakers is provided, in part, by the Public Safety Performance Project of the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Center on the States and the Bureau of Justice Assistance, U.S. Department of Justice.