WisconsinWeekly: Prison boom regrets, racial achievement gap

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Thompson backtracks on prisons, barbs fly over racial achievement gap, Walker misleads on teacher porn case, aid for a paper company, DOJ’s nondisclosure agreements

Of note: This week we highlight several political debates over public policy, including the size of Wisconsin’s prison population, on display as the Nov. 6 election looms. Former Gov. Tommy Thompson says he regrets his role in the state’s prison building boom, but stopped short of criticizing fellow Republican Gov. Scott Walker, who has not wavered from a tough-on-crime stance. As a state representative, Walker was the architect of the state’s “truth-in-sentencing” law that boosted prison populations. The governor has not visited any Wisconsin prison during his nearly eight years in office. He ended an early release program launched by his predecessor, Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle, and he has refused to issue any pardons.

WisconsinWeekly is produced by Dee and Andy Hall, a couple who founded the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. Dee is the managing editor and Andy is the executive director.

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Former Gov. Tommy Thompson says he regrets his part in the Wisconsin prison building boom

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — September 5, 2018

Former Gov. Tommy Thompson said at an event at Marquette University Law School that he regrets having built so many prisons during his tenure from 1987 to 2001. “We have too many people locked up that should be rehabilitated, retrained and allowed to get out and take a job,” he said, adding that he would like some prisons converted into vocational schools. Thompson stopped short of directly criticizing Gov. Scott Walker’s hard-line stance. “I wouldn’t say he’s wrong,” Thompson said. “It’s just that I have matured over the years and I’ve seen the prison systems inside and out.”

Scott Walker and Tony Evers blame each for lack of progress on black students’ performance

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — September 10, 2018

Wisconsin’s notoriously large racial achievement gap has closed only slightly in the last 10 years, according to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, and both of the major party gubernatorial candidates says the other is at fault. Notably, Evers’ campaign points to Walker’s $782 million cut from public schools; Evers says  Walker has four times rejected his proposal to tie school funding in part to poverty levels. Meanwhile, Walker accuses Evers of flip-flopping after Evers said in a 2014 interview that solutions might be possible without increased funding. Previously from WCIJ: Wisconsin’s black-white achievement gap worst in nation despite decades of efforts

Scott Walker misleads on teacher porn case

Politifact – September 13, 2018

Last week, Gov. Scott Walker released an ad attacking Democratic candidate for governor Tony Evers for not revoking the license of a teacher who viewed pornography in his classroom. PolitiFact finds that while Walker’s statements about the teacher’s actions are correct on two of three points (the third is unclear), “the more important part of Walker’s statement is misleading” because the law at that time allowed revocation only when a teacher endangered children — which an arbitrator ruled he had not done.

Scott Walker calls for Senate to approve Kimberly-Clark legislation in extraordinary session

The Cap Times — September 13, 2018

Gov. Scott Walker announced that he wants state senators to convene in an extraordinary session this month to approve a $100 million tax incentive package intended to keep paper company Kimberly-Clark from closing two plants employing 610 workers. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. estimates the company could receive $7 million to $8 million each year under the deal. The Cap Times reports that, “some details of the deal remain unclear, including whether both plants would remain open.”

Bice: Brad Schimel requiring all Wisconsin DOJ employees to sign nondisclosure agreements

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — September 13, 2018

As Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel seeks a second term, his employees at the Wisconsin Department of Justice were instructed last month to sign nondisclosure agreements. Many DOJ employees are already bound to confidentiality on some matters, though some free-speech experts challenge the legality of such restrictions. The Journal Sentinel’s Dan Bice notes, “The new requirement for nondisclosure would include, presumably, employees in the Justice Department’s Office of Open Government, which has a mission of preserving “the proud tradition of open government in Wisconsin.

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