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WACDL Urges Veto of So-called "Tough on Crime" package

Wisconsin Association of

Criminal Defense Lawyers

Peter McKeever, Executive Director


P.O. Box 6706 • Monona, WI 53716-6706 • (608) 223-1275 • FAX (608) 223-9329 •


February 24, 2020


Governor Tony Evers

Office of the Governor

PO Box 7863

Madison, WI 53707


Re: So-called “tough on crime” package


Dear Governor Evers:


On behalf of the Board of Directors and the more than 430 members of the Wisconsin Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, I am writing to urge you to veto the package of “tough on crime” bills recently passed by the Legislature.


Our members are in court in every county daily protecting the due process rights of Wisconsin citizens. We have a unique vantage point on how new legislation affects the justice system in every courthouse across the state. The so-called “tough on crime” package will have an adverse impact on every resident of the state, in large part because it is expensive; it is very likely to lead to substantial increases in the cost of all parts of the criminal justice system: courts, prosecutors, public defenders, and corrections. This is not what Wisconsin needs now. 


This package includes Assembly Bills 804, 805, 806, 808 and 809. Collectively, these bills would move Wisconsin in the wrong direction on criminal justice. They will lead to more revocations from community supervision, decrease discretion for local prosecutors and Judges, and make it more difficult for the Department of Corrections to manage its population efficiently and consistent with public safety. The bills would add to a state prison and jail population that exceeds 23,000 inmates in prison and 12,000 in county jails. Prison and jail facilities are already badly overcrowded. The bills would likely require the state to build new correctional institutions when such money would more productively be spent on programs to treat offenders in the community and divert offenders from the criminal justice system. Wisconsin’s mental health and addiction treatment infrastructure is underfunded now – we cannot afford to spend more money on prison facilities.


Wisconsin must be smart on crime and emphasize evidence-based solutions that will make our communities safer and treat the underlying problems that drive criminal behavior. These bills do the exact opposite.


Thank you for your attention to our request.




Peter E. McKeever

Executive Director

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