Gov. Scott Walker is calling his opponents “dangerously liberal.”
He defended that “dangerous” label while stopping in Onalaska this weekend.
Walker said the specific danger he sees is the idea of reducing prison populations by releasing low-risk inmates.
“Most of the (governor) candidates, they’re saying they want to cut the prison population in half,” Walker said. “That’s great if crime goes down
“I, for one, am not going to let out dangerous felons out onto the streets, just to meet some arbitrary number.”
The number comes as a comparison from across the Mississippi River and Democrats aren’t asking to let out “dangerous felons.”
“Wisconsin imprisons twice as many people as Minnesota,” Democratic governor candidate Mike McCabe wrote on Facebook. “That hasn’t resulted in less crime in Wisconsin.
“The two states have virtually identical crime rates. It only dooms us to a state budget that spends more on prisons than on the entire university system. That’s not tough on crime, it’s dumb on crime.”
The Democrats running for governor are nearly unanimous on legalizing marijuana, ending the use of private prisons — as a task force with Walker’s administration studies building a new one, though Walker hasn’t commented on his position with private prisons — and closing the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility, among other things.
Wisconsin’s prisons costs state taxpayers more than $1 billion a year to run. And it’s 23,600 adult inmates recently had the prison system at a record high.
“Wisconsin’s approach to crime and punishment needs to change if we’re to reach the point of being able to spend more to unlock the potential of our population, than we do to lock people away,” McCabe continued. “Wisconsin needs to stop locking up nonviolent offenders and should emphasize sentencing alternatives to imprisonment and focus more on mental health and drug addiction treatment as Minnesota does.”
Walker argues that only 11 percent of prisoners are locked up because of drug-related crimes. He says giving vocational training to prisoners is a good way of preventing people from returning to jail or prison.