Criminal Justice

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Our Guiding Principles on Criminal Justice Reform

Wisconsin’s criminal justice system largely fails both the population it is meant to serve as well as the taxpayers footing the bill. Our prisons are overcrowded, spending on corrections is increasing and too many returning citizens struggle to integrate back into their communities. Here we offer the Badger Institute’s guiding principles that inform our work and research related to criminal justice reform.

Wisconsin DOC classifies as violent many more offenses than does the FBI

State needs better crime data to get an accurate picture of who’s incarcerated here and why
By Julie Grace
September 2, 2020

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Police Use of Force: How Common Is It?

A Call for Greater Transparency
By Patrick Hughes August 2020

Informed communities are safer communities

Wisconsin needs criminal justice data collection and reporting legislation
By Patrick Hughes
July 7, 2020

State budget realities make new prison construction unlikely

Policymakers will need to look to reforms to address overcrowding issues
By Patrick Hughes
June 4, 2020

Timing important on compassionate release

Move would stress support and health care systems throughout the state
By Patrick Hughes
April 22, 2020

Analysis: Governor, courts shift virus risks, responsibilities onto county jails

Home detention one option for helping prevent virus’ spread while maintaining public safety
By Patrick Hughes
April 1, 2020

Claim that violent crime is up 24% statewide is wrong

Badger Institute analysis shows the rate is much lower, and complicated crime reporting makes comparisons difficult
By Julie Grace
February 26, 2020

Unintended Consequences

Revoking supervision for ex-offenders accused of new crimes would cost taxpayers without improving public safety
By Patrick Hughes
February 20, 2020

Tougher on Taxpayers

Wisconsin's prison system will require hundreds of millions of dollars for new construction, operating costs just to keep up with population growth.
By Patrick Hughes
February 11, 2020

Problems with prosecutor funding in Wisconsin

The current system is vulnerable to politics and perverse incentives
By Julie Grace and Patrick Hughes
January 10, 2020

Ex-offenders under watch

Revocation study looks at Wisconsin's complex community corrections system and why many on supervision are failing.
July 1, 2019

Ex-offenders under watch

Revocation study looks at Wisconsin's complex community corrections system and why many on supervision are failing and data analysis provides quantitative look at supervision terms.
By Cecelia Klingele, Julie Grace and Patrick Hughes
July 2019

Michigan’s model for cutting crime, closing prisons and curtailing costs

Former Michigan state Sen. John Proos (R), chair of the legislative budget subcommittees overseeing corrections and the judiciary budgets, describes the bipartisan reform measures Michigan adopted in 2017 and the dramatic improvements that followed. The event in the Wisconsin State Capitol was sponsored by the Wisconsin Criminal Justice Coalition.
May 22, 2019

Expungement reform would put people back to work

Wisconsin’s law, which requires a judge to decide on expungement at the time of sentencing, is unlike any in the nation.
By Julie Grace
April 11, 2019

Testimony on expungement law reform

In this short video excerpt, Badger Institute policy analyst Julie Grace testifies before the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee in support of Senate Bill 39, which will make necessary reforms to Wisconsin's expungement law.
March 19, 2019

Julie Grace Expungement Law Testimony

Badger Institute Policy Analyst Julie Grace testifies in favor of 2019 SB 39 before the Wisconsin Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety on March 19, 2019

2019 SB 39 would reform Wisconsin's expungement laws.

Proven successes in criminal justice reform

How can Wisconsin improve its criminal justice system? Cecelia Klingele, associate professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School, Tom Lyons, state director for Wisconsin Right on Crime, and Jeremiah Mosteller, policy liaison for the Charles Koch Institute, discuss potential areas for reform. Their presentation was delivered at the Badger Institute’s Policy Symposium.
February 20, 2019

WisEye Morning Minute: Expungement reform bill news conference

Wisconsin legislators and stakeholders held a news conference to unveil the "Expungement Reform: Pathways to Employment" bill. The bill would allow individuals with misdemeanors or Class H and I felonies to also seek expungement after they serve their sentence, remove the age 25 restriction and would apply retroactively to those who served time before the new legislation.
January 29, 2019

Expungement reform will help nonviolent offenders gain employment

Badger Institute analysis: Current restrictions undermine lawmakers' intent, create obstacles to employment.
January 29, 2019

Partners in Hope: A journey of second chances

When law enforcement and ex-offenders come together, good things can happen.
November 14, 2018

Badger Institute launches Center for Opportunity

Institute welcomes first member of new Visiting Fellows Program.
February 14, 2018

The cost of Wisconsin's opioid crisis

Beyond the lives lost and countless other tragedies related to addiction, the opioid epidemic imposes a heavy monetary cost in Wisconsin.
By Ike Brannon and Devorah Goldman
May 4, 2017

Unlocking Potential

Programs across the nation that are working to reduce recidivism should be part of Wisconsin’s corrections strategy
December 2016

Hope Unlocking Potential 2016

Giving Hope to prisoners
Marie Rohde 2016

SIB Unlocking Potential 2016

Badger Bonds - reducing recidivism 2016

Pro Trade Unlocking Potential

Milwaukee’s Pro Trade teaches former inmates technical and life skills

Historical Unlocking Potential

Wisconsin cannot afford to stay the course on its corrections strategy 2016

MATC Unlocking Potential 2016

Training for a new life Goal of MATC machining program is to reduce recidivism and put offenders on career path

MJW Unlocking Potential 2016

Milwaukee Jobs Work takes business approach to helping ex-inmates and the chronically unemployed

Kansas Unlocking Potential 2016

Private industry, Kansas prisons team up

A business approach to helping ex-inmates and the chronically unemployed

Milwaukee JobsWork pursues a multi-level business strategy based on the conviction that sustainable employment leads to self-sufficiency and local business growth is necessary for expanded opportunities.
By Michael Jahr
June 2, 2016

Expungement story May 2017

Problems with Wisconsin’s Expungement Law

An unlikely alliance to connect Milwaukee job-seekers to employers

The Joseph Project addresses regional employment challenges with a free-market approach.
By Michael Jahr
May 4, 2016

Unlocking Potential 2016

Programs across the nation that are working to reduce recidivism should be part of Wisconsin’s corrections strategy

Alma Unlocking Potential 2016

The Alma Center takes on domestic violence byaddressing theroot causes of abuse

Executive Summary Unlocking Potential 2016

More can be done berfore a prisoner is released

Stopping the Revolving Door: Reform of Community Corrections in Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s criminal justice system is marked by a pronounced cycle of crime followed by incarceration followed by parole followed by repeated crime.
By Kate Lind, J.D.
July 2009

Private Prison-Industry Enterprises

Is It an Idea Whose Time has Come (Again)?