Born joins Assembly Republicans in criminal justice reform package

February 23, 2019

Republicans in the state Assembly plan to introduce criminal justice initiatives.

State Rep. Mark Born, R-Beaver Dam, announced this week his support for Assembly Republicans’ criminal justice reform proposals. Born is on the Assembly’s powerful Joint Finance Committee and previously had served on the criminal justice and public safety committees.

Gov. Tony Evers will unveil his full two-year budget proposal Thursday, and he and the Republican-controlled Legislature will have to pass a final budget together over the course of the legislative session.

Republicans identified criminal justice as an area where they could work together with Evers, who made reforms in that area a major part of his campaign, including addressing racial disparities, investing in drug courts and diversion programs and increasing released prisoners’ access to housing and employment.

Evers also has said he sees criminal justice reform as a possible place of compromise with GOP.

Born said the Republicans’ proposals intend to focus on “improving the system from start to finish.”

The Assembly Republicans are proposing more funding for prosecutors, public defenders and court-appointed attorneys as well as other areas to allow for quicker trials. They also support expanding drug and alcohol diversion programs for those suffering from addiction and abuse.

The Republicans are also backing expansion of worker training and other programs to help individuals transition back into society.

Dodge County could see an impact from increased funding for the criminal justice system in the form of additional positions in the courts, and more training and higher wages for correctional officers. The county is home to four state prisons.

The actual details will need to be ironed out through the full budget process, starting with Evers revealing his plan at the end of the month.

“We’re hopeful that the governor would include those in his budget, which will be unveiled soon,” Born said.

The Evers administration has previewed some of the highlights of the governor’s budget, including legalizing medical marijuana, improving women’s health care, a middle-class tax cut, and a path toward raising the minimum wage. He has also appointed a panel to advise him on criminal justice reforms, with a focus on addressing racial inequality.