By, Sherry Reames – Source, Madison.com
I was disappointed to learn recently that Gov. Tony Evers had forced John Tate to resign from the Parole Commission, and I hope the Wisconsin State Journal will devote more attention to this story.
Under Tate’s leadership, the commission was working as intended for the first time in a decade. Prisoners sentenced before 2000 were finally obtaining release if they had fulfilled all the requirements intended by the judges who sentenced them — that is, if they had completed all the programs required by the sentencing judge and the Department of Corrections, and if they had clearly demonstrated enough maturity and self-discipline to be trusted back in society. They also had to serve at least 25% of their sentences. Let me repeat that: at least 25%.
No judge before the era of “truth in sentencing” assumed that an 80-year sentence was supposed to mean 80 years in prison. Research has clearly demonstrated that 20 years is enough in most cases. Holding prisoners for extra decades, as Wisconsin has been doing, is “tough on crime theater” at its worst. It keeps our prisons dangerously crowded, destroys communities and wastes huge amounts of tax money and human potential.
The parole system works, when we let it.