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Friday - April 20, 2018 8:58 am

Releasing sick and elderly prisoners would save taxpayers millions

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There are some who say our system of justice is not tough enough. But, perhaps, for some criminals, it is too tough. Like most states, Wisconsin has a law that allows for the early release of criminals from our prisons who are elderly, or sick or dying. But the law is hardly being used. Even though doing so could save taxpayers millions of dollars per year. There are some 1200 prisoners in Wisconsin aged 60 or older. The cost of housing each of them is estimated $70,000 a year. But last year, under Wisconsin's early release program, only six prisoners were freed before they had served their full sentence. Even though it is generally agreed much of the state's elderly prison population is not much of a risk to commit new crimes. Early release programs were designed to address prison overcrowding, to save money, and to avoid costly litigation alleging inadequate medical care behind bars. One reason we aren't letting the sick and dying out early is because the law says only those who were convicted since the year 2000 can apply for early release. That means some of the oldest and sickest prisoners can't even be considered for early release. Wisconsin should revisit this law, and make it easier for the sickest and most elderly to apply for early release, regardless of how long ago the crime was committed. That could save taxpayers millions, while posing little danger to the public.

Scott Robert Shaw

Scott Robert Shaw is the Program Director for both 1410 WIZM and 580 WKTY.   He's currently the morning news anchor on 1410 WIZM, Z93 and 95-7 The Rock.  He joined Mid-West Family Broadcasting as a reporter/anchor in 1989 and served as News Director from 1990-2015.   He's been the winner of several Wisconsin Broadcaster's Association awards for Best Editorial in Wisconsin.  He enjoys traveling, bicycling and cooking.

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