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As I See It

Dismantling parole commission won’t “streamline” anything



Governor Walker likes to boast that he is tough on crime. He famously refuses to issue pardons to inmates, no matter their circumstances. Now Walker wants to eliminate the Wisconsin Parole commission, which determines when inmates should be eligible for early release. Currently, the commission is comprised of eight members, although 5 of those seats are vacant, and Walker refuses to fill them. He wants to eliminate the commission, and put just one person, someone of his choosing, in charge of determining when Wisconsin’s prison inmates should be released. But there are thousands of parole-eligible prisoners in Wisconsin. How can putting all that work in the hands of just one person streamline the process as the Governor claims? More likely, the change will lead to a backlog of cases. But more importantly, it is good to have a difference of opinion among board members. With a handful of board members, there is a collaborative decision-making process. Putting all that power into the hands of just one person could reduce the board’s independence. It seems that while Wisconsin’s current parole system may be broken and unfair, this proposed change would only make it worse.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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