Vukmir’s Prison Bill Dies in State Senate
Would have jailed 1,800 more people per year at annual cost of $57 million.
The bill was proposed by State Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Brookfield), and bespoke her policy views and was perhaps something she saw as a calling card in her campaign for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Democrat Tammy Baldwin.
Vukmir was co-author of SB 54, which would have required the Department of Corrections “to recommend revocation of probation or extended supervision for anyone charged with a new violent misdemeanor or any felony,” as Gretchen Schuldt has reported.
The Department of Corrections had estimated the proposal would send nearly 1,800 more people to prison a year at a cost of more than $57 million a year, as the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
The measure included $350 million for a new prison to accommodate all the new prisoners.
The bill “would force a revocation recommendation if a person picked up any felony – even second offense marijuana possession – while on probation or parole,” Schuldt noted.
The bill was opposed by the League of Women Voters and by the State Public Defender’s office, which said the bill is “potentially unconstitutional” and “will neither be cost effective nor have a substantially beneficial impact on future criminal behavior.”
Vukmir’s proposal came at a time when the State Department of Corrections “was unsure it could find enough contract beds in jails to house prison overflows,” as Schuldt reported. “The department’s adult division already is contracting for beds in county jails to house prison inmates,” her story noted. “‘It is believed there are not enough contract beds available around the state to house the projected populations,’ DOC said in its budget request.”
The department projected a need for 695 contract inmate beds in fiscal 2018 and 1,902 contract beds in fiscal 2019, the story noted.
That issue, along with the disagreements between the Senate and Assembly on a raft of proposed laws, may have led to this bill’s death.
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