Help solve Wisconsin's coming labor shortage by rehabilitating prisoners
Today, I take great pride in sharing the credit for what we accomplished on key issues including welfare reform and school choice, successful policy innovations in which Wisconsin created a blueprint adopted across the nation.
But...I presided over the largest expansion of our state’s prison system, believing our families are safer as a result. But I've also come to believe that our corrections system and incarceration practices are both financially unsustainable and provide questionable outcomes worthy of strenuous review...
Today, 22% of Wisconsin adults have criminal records. Setting aside those within the walls of our prisons who have so seriously violated the public trust that freedom is no longer an option, there remains an even larger population for which institutional constraint may one day come to an end.
Looking back, I regret not spending more time considering, “What does tomorrow look like for that parolee, and can we work together to help provide the necessary tools to reap a new opportunity?”Let's insert his new-found more thoughtful attention to the same sort of people that he'd earlier used to solidify his 'tough-on-crime' ballot box persona into the analysis this blog has provided when people were re-writing Tommy history on transportation.
Or when Thompson, despite years of promoting Amtrak, gave Scott Walker cover when he killed Amtrak connections between Milwaukee and Madison.
Or when Thompson, in a vacuum, talked up the Wisconsin Idea knowing that Walker had tried to delete it from the UW mission statement.
And that he, Thompson had dealt the Wisconsin Idea his own serious blow by terminating the Office of Public Intervenor and thus further tilting the legal playing field in environmental cases to industry's side and laying the groundwork for Walker's full-scale assault on clean air and water.
|Thompson, circa 2001|
This is the same Tommy Thompson, who, as Governor:
...consistently advocated stronger punishment for crime, abolishing mandatory parole, and allowing children as young as 10 to be tried as adults. During his tenure he doubled the state’s prison capacity and initiated construction of “Super Max” prisons for the most violent offenders.And where, in his "Super Max prison:
Prisoners were on permanent lockdown in tiny cells, with a light that shone at full brightness 24 hours a day. They were prohibited from using their blankets to cover their eyes at night. Their three hours of weekly out-of-cell time were spent alone in a cement room without so much as a tennis ball. The only human interaction came when guards dropped off meal trays.
Cell temperatures have climbed into the triple digits during summer. Inmates were required to sleep with their heads toward their toilets, which flushed intermittently and often backed up. Clocks were prohibited, so inmates lost all sense of time. Even guards weren't allowed to wear watches. These conditions, said one expert, were 'an incubator for psychosis....'
The biggest spur [to change] was a federal class-action lawsuit filed against the prison in 2000. Inmates alleged that conditions inside the $47 million prison violated constitutional protections against cruel and unusual punishment.
A settlement agreement reached in 2002 ended the extreme isolation and sensory deprivation that once underpinned Supermax's correctional philosophy. Among other things, the agreement prohibited mentally ill inmates from being housed there.Let's remember that while Thompson was building a career on the backs of prisoners, another budding careerist political in 1997 was singing from the same hymnal: