MADISON – Scott Walker is furthering his agenda set out to be tough on convicted criminals. In his budget, he is proposing to cut the state’s parole commission from eight employees down to just one.
Critics of the Governor’s plan say losing staff who are experienced in judging risk of paroling inmates means that people will remain in prison longer.
Madison attorney Lester Pines told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, said, “The default position is going to be it’s too dangerous to release this person.”
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports
Pines, a Democrat, has sued the Walker administration a number of times over constitutional concerns, but in this case a legal challenge would be difficult to carry off unless a plaintiff could first show that the proposal was actually resulting in delays for parolees, he said.
At least 2,000 state inmates have served enough of their sentences that they can ask to be paroled — a process that requires a hearing for the inmate and for his or her victims. The great majority have served long sentences for violent crimes. Some have been denied parole 10 times or more.
Right now, the state Parole Commission has a staff of civil servants who make release recommendations to a parole chairman who is appointed by Walker. The agency has a budget of $1.2 million a year and 13 positions authorized to it, but it spends only a portion of its budget and has only eight positions currently.
Walker’s proposal would cut even more:
- The stand-alone Parole Commission would be replaced by a single worker, a director of parole who also would be appointed.
- The new parole director would work within the Bureau of Classification and Movement. That bureau determines where inmates need to be housed within Department of Corrections prisons based on their security risk.
- The Parole Commission’s budget would be entirely eliminated — the Department of Corrections would have to fund the new parole director’s salary out of its existing budget. There would no longer be civil servants working parole cases unless the Department of Corrections assigned them to do so.
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