November 28, 2004
Tough on rationality
By Dustin Beilke
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has been running an excellent series all week on the maniacal self-abuse that is this state’s corrections system. Look for the fourth and final installment on Monday.
Today’s article does a terrific job of showing how our outrageously expensive system makes our cities and towns less safe and less prosperous by releasing unprecedented numbers of ex-felons into our streets with no rehabilitation, no training, no preparation, and no resources to help them make the transition to life on the outside. MJS goes soft on putting the blame where it belongs, but maybe it is so obvious there is no need to say it out loud: Wisconsin’s bloviating legislators and state constitutional officers (oops, I just said it).
Former Gov. Tommy Thompson and the rest of the shameless hacks took every chance they could to tell us how tough on crime they were to warehouse record numbers of prisoners and cut the “coddling” programs that might improve their lives. The result is a state budget where we can afford to do little other than house prisoners, streets that are decidedly less safe because they are filled with increasingly desperate individuals, and an entire class of people—felons and ex-felons—who have almost no chance at a good life. All of this just to make it easier for a bunch of thoroughly lousy politicians to get re-elected.
One former inmate quoted in the MJS article talked about his self-designed pre-release program: "Days before I was released I would sit in my room, turn the TV off and think about what I was going to do. How was I going to live?”
Another ex-convict MJS interviewed reveals the secret of her post-release program: "I'm getting back into church now, and I just pray every day."
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