Wisconsin Republicans cling to crime issue

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Anybody who’s kept up with Republican rhetoric as of late has undoubtedly noticed the GOP hammering the state’s new early-release plan, signed into Gov. Doyle at the beginning of the month. It has become a talking point inserted into any press release on the budget, the Democrats, or Doyle.

Although Scott Walker only vaguely references “protecting the rights of crime victims” in his section on “Standing Up For Wisconsin Families,” other Republicans have gone much further, labeling reforms that encourage inmates to behave and stay out of trouble as “pro-crime.” Just the other day Rep. Scott Sueder warned that thousands of dangerous criminals would soon be in a “neighborhood near you.”

And of course today, Van Wanggaard (that’s a whole name, not a Dutch last name ), a Racine County supervisor, announced his candidacy for the 21st Senate district, citing his opposition to “letting felons from prisons early for budgetary purposes.” That will “put the safety and security” of our neighborhoods and risk, he claims.

Actually, what is really at risk with this new policy is the collective sense of  vindication we have when we see a guy get sent up the river. That the statistics show Wisconsin’s system to be grossly ineffective and detrimental means nothing to the GOP. Like gay bashing and opposition to science, the tough-on-crime beast will eventually die a natural death as voters inevitably realize that they’ve been duped into disregarding facts through fear. However, until that day comes, the GOP will continue to squeeze all the life out of the issue as possible.

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5 Responses to “Wisconsin Republicans cling to crime issue”

  1. Alec S Says:

    “Like gay bashing and opposition to science, the tough-on-crime beast will eventually die a natural death as voters inevitably realize that they’ve been duped into disregarding facts through fear.”

    Pretty optimistic Craver. I realize quotations do very little work in and of themselves, but I think Einsten’s quote about fear or stupidity being the basis of almost all human actions is pretty applicable to most peoples method of deciding how a system of punishment should run. Unfortunately, I see very little to suggest that this is a trend which is beginnning to shrink. In the states at least, our recent history has been nothing but things getting worse.

    I do really enjoy the amount of coverage you give to the subject though.

  2. The Sconz Says:

    Thanks for the support Alec. I think you’re right to a certain extent – attitudes toward crime and punishment aren’t necessarily generational to the same extent as gay rights and say, marijuana de-criminalization is. So it’s not necessarily attitudes, but facts that change the situation. People have looked at the numbers and decided that the rhetoric doesn’t outweigh the record. Even some of the most backward thinking Republicans in the country, like Sen. Sam Brownback (KS), have been favorable to corrections reform. Brownback helped reform the crack sentencing guidelines last year I believe.

  3. illusory tenant Says:

    “Rep. Scott Suder warned that thousands of dangerous criminals would soon be in a ‘neighborhood near you.'”

    Soon? They already are.

    Anyway, as far as I’m aware, those eligible for this program will be felons who’ve already served their initial period of incarceration, were released on extended supervision, and did something to violate their terms of supervision.

    What that something is could be relatively innocuous and in many instances isn’t even enough to warrant a misdemeanor charge.

  4. Zach Says:

    I don’t mean to promote my own blog, but I do have some thoughts on this over at my place:

    http://bloggingblue.com/2009/07/09/lets-get-smart-about-spending-corrections-dollars/

  5. Kyle Szarzynski Says:

    Expecting that the general populace, including its politicians, will come to see the wisdom of more progressive, or reasonable, alternatives to our current method of incarceration is awfully naive. The difference between gay rights and “criminal” rights is that the former is not needed, and therefore will not be sustained, by the contemporary power elite. How does gay rights help to justify the police state, and by extension the class-based system under which we live? It doesn’t. Scapegoating the destitute, including their “criminal” element, is inherent to any society which has unnecessary inequalities it seeks to maintain. For further information on this subject, read a book on the history of any society that has ever existed.

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