We must fix criminal justice system -- Dave Topp

November 20, 2018

Our criminal justice system in Wisconsin is broken. Many proposals passed over the years have only made it worse. Wisconsin incarcerates roughly twice as many people as Minnesota.

Why are we different? Gov. Scott Walker was proud that he never visited one of Wisconsin’s prisons. It’s not surprising nothing has changed over the last eight years. You can’t fix a problem if you don’t recognize it.

Our criminal justice system has been focused almost exclusively on punishment, with little rehabilitation. They call it “law and order.” It leads to more prison beds and staff shortages. It guarantees that many prisoners will make a short trip back into the system, once they are released.

A recent article in the State Journal indicated Assembly Republicans would find little common ground on changes to the system with our next governor, Tony Evers. That is sad and could be corrected with elections in 2020. Even President Donald Trump, with whom I share little common ground, has indicated that changes should be made to our broken system.

Republicans ran on the fear that Evers would put dangerous criminals back on the street. You saw the political ads. As citizens we have to demand that our legislators recognize the problems we have and come up with meaningful solutions.

If not, look to 2020. Just dealing with mandatory minimum sentences is not enough.

Dave Topp, Madison

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