Early release program affected by Walker's budget proposal - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Early release program affected by Walker's budget proposal

By Bonnie Shelton

WAUSAU (WAOW)--Newsline 9 continues to flush out how Governor Walker's budget would impact your life, and one of the areas he focuses on is public safety.

That includes repealing Act 28, that provides early release options for certain state inmates. In an effort to stem prison overcrowding, former Governor Jim Doyle established an early release program that was instituted on October 1st, 2009.

It allows certain offenders to get out of prison before their sentences are up based on good behavior, extraordinary health conditions or positive adjustment time. According to a spokesperson for the Department of Corrections, repealing Act 28 would force inmates to appeal to the sentencing court for early release.

Walker's budget would make that 2009 provision null-and-void. In essence forcing most state inmates to complete their full sentences.

Chris Wilke, co-founder of The Open Door, believes early release is a good incentive for some state inmates. The Open Door provides clothing and job assistance to newly-released offenders.

"I think there's individuals that want to change and I think through these programs, through the Department of Corrections, that they'll get the help they need," he said.

A spokesperson from the Department of Corrections said 479 offenders have gotten out on early release since the law changed in 2009. That's a very small number compared to the 21,000 plus inmates currently being held in state prisons.

Online Reporter: Bonnie Shelton

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