Saturday, May 13, 2006

Milwaukee Journal /Sentinel Articles on Truth and Sentencing
1) editorial calling for reform
2) prisoners less motivated
3) Mary Zahn 4 part series
a) about the series
b)Cost to taxpayers, Wi law toughest
c)aging prison population
d) little help fro returnees
e) alternatives

Editorial: Reform Truth and Sentencing
From the Journal Sentinel Posted: Nov. 27, 2004
Truth in sentencing, which was not supposed to increase penalties, has actually accelerated a two-decade trend toward longer prison terms, often out of proportion to the crime. This development is driving up hopelessness and bad conduct among inmates and costing the state a fortune. Worse, the state is skimping on rehabilitation, often pushing released inmates on a track that leads right back to prison. Journal Sentinel reporters Mary Zahn and Gina Barton documented this worrisome mess in a four-part series of stories that ends Monday. Gov. Jim Doyle and the Legislature - both implicated in this costly muddle - should clean it up. They must: • Loosen the state’s truth-in-sentencing law, which went into effect on the last day in 1999 as one of the most rigid in the nation. It should emulate the federal government and most states with truth in sentencing and give the state Department of Corrections a bit of wiggle room so it can reward and thus encourage good conduct and let terminally ill inmates die at home. • Re-examine the criminal statutes with the idea of shortening maximum sentences where appropriate. Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, a sponsor of truth in sentencing when he was in the Legislature, says the intent of the measure was clarity in sentencing, not longer prison terms. Yet a result, according to the Journal Sentinel analysis, is longer prison terms. The Sentencing Commission was set up as part of truth in sentencing to monitor judicial practices around the state, study their impact on the cost of corrections and make recommendations to policy-makers. It should, as soon as possible, supply the Legislature with the data it needs to make changes, with the goal of lowering maximums that are too high. • Adequately finance the Sentencing Commission. The commission could alert officials to costly trouble spots in the law, but a shoestring budget hobbles the agency. Legislative leaders should also activate the Joint Review Committee on Criminal Penalties, which they also set up as part of truth in sentencing and then left out of the loop. The committee is designed to give prison-impact statements on criminal proposals in the Legislature. Both the committee and the commission are designed to make up for the lack of planning that got the state in its present prison predicament. • Drastically step up rehabilitation efforts inside and outside prison walls. If a person is released from prison without money, without a job, without skills, without housing, without prospects, how on earth is he or she supposed to survive? Getting offenders off the prison track and onto the job track is key to cleaning up the prison mess. • Make more use of alternatives to prison - such as house arrest, mandatory drug treatment, intensive probation - for appropriate offenders. Also key is adequate funding that will allow parole agents to lower caseloads and beef up their community supervision. In the era of indeterminate prison terms, a judge decided how much total time a convicted defendant would spend both in prison and on parole, and a parole board decided how to split the time between the two forms of supervision. Under truth in sentencing, the judge takes over the job of the parole board, but at sentencing. The virtue of this method is clarity: All parties know at the start of a sentence the exact length of a prison term. But what has been sorely missing in law and order in Wisconsin is planning. Lawmakers toughen criminal laws helter-skelter, without any consideration of the impact of the changes on prisons or the treasury - a big reason the state now faces a $1.6 billion deficit it must close in the next state budget. As attorney general, Doyle pushed truth in sentencing, so he can’t escape culpability for having failed to adequately plan for it. Of course, some very bad people deserve to stay in prison for a long, long time - some for the rest of their lives. Clarifying sentencing should not change this. The bill for the inadvertent lengthening of sentences will ring up to $1.8 billion through 2025. The prison system is on track to rival the University of Wisconsin System in tax support, Zahn and Barton noted. Doyle and lawmakers must take steps to avert that awful outcome.

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Inmates less motivated, wardens find With no way to earn time off, desperation is more common, they say
By MARY ZAHN Posted: Nov. 21, 2004 Motivating inmates to enroll in prison drug and alcohol treatment programs and other rehabilitation programs has become increasingly difficult under truth in sentencing, according to some state prison wardens. "They know they are not going to get out any earlier, so they simply don't want to take the time to do the programming and don't want to invest in it," said Jane Gamble, who was warden of Kettle Moraine Correctional Institution in Plymouth until her retirement this summer. "It is a shame, because we have excellent programs here." Truth in sentencing, which applies to anyone who committed a crime on or after Dec. 31, 1999, requires inmates to serve every day of their prison term with no chance from the parole board for early release. Instead of time off for good behavior, the law adds time on for bad behavior. Of the 168 offenders who refused to participate in one drug and alcohol program last year at Kettle Moraine, 131 were truth-in-sentencing inmates, she said. "That is a dramatic difference from what it was before," Gamble said. "They go out and they will probably have to do the treatment somewhere on the streets if they can find treatment," she said. "We are just kind of moving the problem along with the offender." Even with the refusals, she added, the treatment programs at Kettle Moraine have long waiting lists. One program, she said is full through August 2005 and another had a waiting list of about two months. Budget pressures Gamble and other wardens who were interviewed said they also had long waiting lists for rehabilitative programs and are seeing inmates coming in with longer prison terms under truth in sentencing. "We have had to shift treatment and education dollars just for the beds," said Daniel Bertrand, the warden of Green Bay Correctional Institution. "We have lost positions - inmate complaint examiners, maintenance positions. I have about 300 inmates who don't have a job or program because there are just not enough staff." Meanwhile, Bertrand and other wardens said, inmate disciplinary problems have increased along with psychological problems. Additional segregation cells have been added at Green Bay to deal with the problems, he said. Gary McCaughtry, who retired this month as warden of Waupun Correctional Institution, said that he sees pros and cons about truth in sentencing but that the law does not "produce an incentive for inmates to participate in programs and try to earn their way out of prison by rehabilitation means." 'How much is enough?' "I think incapacitation is a legitimate goal of the criminal justice system," he said. "People who are away from society can't victimize. It's really a challenge from a public policy standpoint to come up with the right amount of incapacitation for the right individual. How much is enough? That is a very good question." Some inmates have shown signs of increased desperation, he said, because they know there is no way to earn their way out of prison. "From the public standpoint, they are going to start knowing more ex-inmates," McCaughtry said. "They are going to be coming out. They are going to be in their neighborhoods. They will be cooking their food, pumping their gas. There are just going to be more of them out there. We have to protect the public by keeping them in the best shape when they go out."

Truth in Sentencing 4 Part Series by Mary Zahn, of Milwaukee Journal/Sentinal

About The Series

PART 1: Wisconsin's truth-in-sentencing law will cost taxpayers an estimated $1.8 billion for inmates admitted through 2025 if current trends continue, as offenders serve more time in prison and under supervision. With no parole board involved and wide latitude for judges, Wisconsin's law is one of the toughest in the country. Wardens report more disciplinary problems and inadequate treatment and job programs. Community supervision agents report caseloads of 60 or more with few direct services to offer their clients.
PART 2: With longer sentences, more inmates are aging - and dying - in prison. But even for a terminally ill inmate, early release is next to impossible. In other cases, district attorneys routinely block requests. The state Supreme Court has upheld the law's limitations on early release.
PART 3: Offenders who are released into the community find long waiting lists for help with employment, housing and drug treatment - the three keys to success on the outside. Many end up back in prison, often for violating the conditions of their supervision.
PART 4: While truth in sentencing keeps criminals in prison for longer terms, the restorative justice movement works to help them change their thinking and behavior, by bringing offenders face to face with victims and survivors. .

Tougher sentencing law carries hefty price
Estimated $1.8 billion through 2025
By MARY ZAHN and GINA BARTON;Posted: Nov. 20, 2004;First of four parts
A state law that gives criminals virtually no chance for early release will cost Wisconsin taxpayers an estimated $1.8 billion for inmates admitted through 2025 if current trends continue, a Journal Sentinel analysis of prison and court records has found.
The prison system is on track to rival the state university system in annual tax dollars as the cost of longer prison terms and extended supervision in the community steamrolls through the years. A dozen years ago, Wisconsin taxpayers invested three times as much money in universities as in prisons.
Wisconsin implemented one of the nation's toughest truth-in-sentencing laws four years ago without ever assessing the cost. Today, thousands of inmates are on waiting lists for prison jobs, education and treatment programs. Wardens report more bad conduct and hopelessness among offenders.
When they are released, inmates report to parole officers with average caseloads of about 60 who have little to offer in direct aid other than free bus tickets, hygiene kits and referrals to agencies with more long waiting lists.
When truth in sentencing sailed through the Legislature in 1998, Wisconsin's crime rate had fallen 14.3% over the preceding five years. From 1998 to 2003, that trend continued, with a decline of 12.4%.
Supporters hailed the law as a more honest system that would put judges - not the parole board - in charge of how much time offenders would spend in prison and then under extended supervision, formerly known as parole. Crime victims would know exactly how long the criminal would be behind bars.
Critics warned it would be a budget disaster for taxpayers and would not make communities safer without additional prison treatment and community supervision dollars. No additional money was appropriated by the Legislature for the new law.
For crimes that occur on or after Dec. 31, 1999, the law requires offenders to serve every day of their sentences. It eliminates time off for good behavior and adds prison time for bad behavior. Judges must tack on a term of extended supervision equal to at least 25% of the prison time.
The Legislature also eliminated the parole board's role for truth-in-sentencing cases. For earlier crimes, the board can release inmates it believes have been rehabilitated after serving at least 25% of their sentences, and inmates must be released after serving two-thirds of their terms.
'People do stupid things'
Harold Hudson, 22, is among the thousands of inmates sentenced under the new law. A 10th-grade dropout, he is serving a 10-year prison term for an armed robbery that he committed when he was 18. His only prior record was a juvenile arrest for possession of marijuana.
Armed with a miniature baseball bat, Hudson and an accomplice who carried a broken, unloaded pistol robbed a terrified clerk at a Milwaukee Walgreens store and fled with about $850. The men had been smoking marijuana and drinking alcohol and decided to do the robbery because they were broke and unemployed, records show.
Under the old parole system, Hudson could have been considered for release after serving 21/2 years and would have to have been paroled after serving six years and eight months.
Under the new system, judges sentence offenders to a set amount of time in prison plus additional time on extended supervision. When Hudson is released, he will be supervised for five years. He can be sent back to prison for that entire amount of time if he violates the rules at any point during his supervision. Time served in the community does not count.
"I was young and just made a mistake," Hudson said. "I'm not saying I didn't deserve prison. I did. But I got a bigger sentence than what I need to be rehabilitated. People do stupid things when they are young, and they learn from them."
Projecting the costs
To assess the impact of truth in sentencing, the Journal Sentinel interviewed more than 100 people over six months, including judges, victims, parole agents, offenders, politicians, defense attorneys, prosecutors, community advocates and corrections officials.
In addition, the newspaper reviewed hundreds of court records and analyzed a database of 123,087 inmate records kept by the state Department of Corrections. That database was used in creating a mathematical model to analyze trends and estimate the added cost of more prison and extended supervision over time.
The law will cost taxpayers an estimated $398 million extra just for the inmates who have entered the system in the first 41/2 years under truth in sentencing, as the time they would have been released under the old system comes and goes.
The annual cost will exceed $50 million by 2010, the estimates show, and the cumulative cost will approach $576 million in 2014 as more inmates enter the system.
The projections are conservative, in that inflation was not factored in, nor was the cost of offenders ending up in prison again for violating conditions of extended supervision. They also assume that current crime and sentencing patterns will continue.
Sentences got longer
Without the parole board involved, truth in sentencing places ultimate responsibility on judges to determine how long an offender will be in prison and on supervision. Judges were encouraged in training sessions to hone down prison terms and to consider that every day would have to be served behind bars.
However, the newspaper's analysis shows that both prison and extended supervision time significantly increased, and that offenders are serving more time locked up than under the parole system.
"One of the misconceptions at the time, and I think still is, is that I and other proponents wanted longer sentences," said Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker, who at the time was one of the legislative sponsors of truth in sentencing.
"In some cases, like with sex offenders, that was something I was interested in," Walker said recently. "But overall the primary purpose was to just have the certainty of knowing exactly how long someone was going to be in prison."
The cost of the bill was not estimated at the time because there was "no way of calculating what the judicial response would be," Walker said.
Longer supervision terms
While the law requires judges to give an extended supervision time equal to at least 25% of the prison sentence, records show that judges statewide are tacking on much more - sometimes double the prison time.
"How many of them are going to make 10 years of community supervision without bouncing in and out of prison, given the generally poor supervision environment?" asked Walter Dickey, a University of Wisconsin Law School professor who served as the state corrections secretary from 1983 to 1987.
Anthony Washington, a high school dropout with no job skills, is typical of offenders who keep revolving through the criminal justice system. He was sentenced in April 2003 to eight years in prison for burglary and as a habitual criminal and to seven years on extended supervision. There were no violent crimes on his record.
Washington, 39, who has been in prison in the past, told a judge that he was able to stay crime-free for about two years. Then he lost one job after another when employers found he was a convicted felon. He turned to panhandling, drug use and then finally to the burglary, which yielded him $40 in cash.
"I have very little means of survival," Washington said at his sentencing. "I don't even have a change of underwear . . . I keep getting sent back (to prison) . . . I know what not to do, but what to do?"
'They feel there is no hope'
Wardens and other prison employees cite an increase in bad-conduct reports under truth in sentencing, more psychological problems and a pervasive sense of hopelessness among inmates who can do nothing to earn their way out of prison early.
The newspaper's analysis shows that as a group, inmates sentenced between 2000 and 2002 under truth in sentencing had 34% to 59% more major bad-conduct reports, compared with inmates admitted under the old parole system.
"I truly believe they feel there is no hope," said Kim Schauer, an officer at the Green Bay Correctional Institution and a 10-year veteran. "It doesn't matter if you are a good or decent inmate or if you are a troubled inmate. There is no more good time. They can't get out early."
Alternative programs
With budget pressure mounting, less-expensive programs that provide rehabilitation and early release for non-violent offenders have grown rapidly, from 106 to 362 beds since truth in sentencing began. Those who qualify for these six-month drug and rehab programs - which include boot camps for male and female offenders - can theoretically get out in a year or less. A judge must find them eligible at sentencing and can specify when they can be enrolled.
About 276 inmates are on the waiting list for openings. Some will be released before they get to the top of the list.
"We implement truth in sentencing, and the light goes on and we realize what a disaster it is," said Dickey, the former corrections secretary. "But instead of confronting what a disaster it is, what we do is we slide open the back door quietly, trying to have a safety valve. It's obviously an improvement but signifies our unwillingness to take this on more squarely."
Parole agents strained
For parole agents, who also function as probation agents, growing caseloads and increasingly limited resources have made their jobs even more difficult. Over the past six months, as reporters spent time with some of them, their desks were stacked high with paperwork, and they had little to offer in terms of direct services. Most of their clients were high school dropouts with few job skills, no money and often no place to live.
One offender had been referred for mental health services in August but by the end of October still had not reached the top of the list. Another who had been living in cramped quarters with relatives was on the list for housing help for several months before making it to the top.
By that time, he had been arrested on a new charge and was headed back to prison.
Even bus tickets are at a premium. Agents sometimes receive just enough for one per month for each of their 60 clients.
"I tell my offenders to make them last," agent Julie Nicholson said. "Use transfers. Get rides from friends."
The get-tough '90s
Wisconsin was one of about 40 states that passed versions of truth in sentencing in the 1990s, according to the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics. The movement was due, in part, to the federal government providing more federal funds to build prisons for states that kept violent prisoners locked up for 85% of their sentences and a "get tough on crime" mentality that swept the country, authorities said.
Wisconsin got even tougher, according to Don Stemen, senior program analyst from the Vera Institute of Justice in New York. The non-profit, non-partisan group works with governments on criminal justice reforms and has surveyed states on the impact of harsher prison terms.
Stemen said Wisconsin appears to be the only state in the nation with this combination of factors for truth in sentencing:
· Requiring both violent offenders and non-violent property and drug offenders to serve 100% of their prison time.
· Eliminating any role for its parole board.
· Having no mechanism to force judges to sentence within specific ranges.
No more 'safety valve'
"Frankly I thought the parole system was working very well at the time," said Thomas Barland, who was an Eau Claire County circuit judge when he led a legislatively mandated committee to work on ways to implement the law.
"However, I recognized that the public was cynical regarding sentencing, because when someone was sentenced to 10 years, he or she might serve as little as a quarter of that time," said Barland, who is now retired and works as a reserve judge. "The downside to truth in
sentencing is that it produces a rigidity in prison time served, because the parole board formerly acted as a safety valve when prison population became too great or an individual prisoner showed rehabilitative promise."
In the years before truth in sentencing took effect, parole grants were steadily declining, parole board records show. In 1995, the board granted parole to 4,046 inmates. By 1999, that number had dwindled to 1,231.
Only a handful of lawmakers voted against truth in sentencing when it became law in 1998, with the support of then-Gov. Tommy G. Thompson and then-Attorney General Jim Doyle.
"I believe very strongly in truth in sentencing," said Doyle, who is now governor, this month. "The victim knows how many years the person is going to get. The defendant knows what the requirements are going to be - how many years he or she will be incarcerated followed by what period of supervision. Truth in sentencing is a lot better than un-truth in sentencing."
State Sen. Fred Risser (D-Madison) is one of the few legislators still in office who voted against the measure.
"It was the mentality of lock 'em up and throw away the key," Risser said. "They didn't use any logic; it was just emotion. The counter-argument was, how do you put a fiscal note on the amount of crime you can avoid if you put these people in prison."
Ready or not
Because of worries that the new law could be a financial disaster without changes in the criminal code, implementation was delayed until Dec. 31, 1999, and a Criminal Penalties Study Committee was appointed to make recommendations on changes needed before truth in sentencing would take effect. Barland, who was chairman of the committee, said the idea was to set the maximum prison term for a particular crime at roughly equal to the maximum time that inmates would have served behind bars under the old parole system.
The committee's report was presented to the Legislature in August 1999. Besides beefed-up extended supervision, the committee recommended lower maximum prison time for most major felonies, eliminating minimum penalties for most felonies so judges could opt for probation, providing judges with guidelines to help them reduce their prison sentences and creating a sentencing commission to help monitor the law's implementation.
But political gridlock kept the recommendations from becoming law for more than three years. As a result, on Dec. 31, 1999, truth in sentencing went into effect with even higher maximum sentences than had been in place before.
Why? Because when the law was originally passed in 1998, the Legislature had voted to increase the maximum penalties for most felonies by 50%, to accommodate the new reality that an offender's "sentence" would include both prison time and extended supervision afterward.
"The judges got mixed signals from the legislators and the politicians," said Victor Manian, a reserve judge who retired as chief judge in Milwaukee County earlier this year. "On the one hand they were screaming, 'We've got to get tough with criminals, and judges better give them sentences that are appropriate to the crime, and they are going to have to serve every day of it.' And then on the back side they were saying, 'What are you guys doing? You're filling up the prisons, and we can't keep up with it.' "
Caught in gridlock
Offenders such as Alexander Grubor, 52, a married father of three, faced significantly more time in prison and on community supervision than they would have if the Barland report had been implemented, the newspaper's analysis shows.
Grubor was among an estimated 8,200 offenders who would be sentenced under the harsher penalties. The Barland report, with its reduced sentences, was finally implemented for crimes occurring on or after Feb. 1, 2003.
Grubor, who is from New Berlin and had no previous criminal record, served three years in prison and 18 months of supervision for possession with intent to deliver after police found about 4 ounces of marijuana in his basement. If the Barland report had been implemented at the time of his offense, Grubor's maximum prison time would have been 18 months.
The marijuana was found during a police search. Grubor maintained it was for his personal use. Police said Grubor told them he was selling marijuana to make extra money, a statement Grubor adamantly denies making. A jury found him guilty.
Grubor had to serve his entire prison term despite prison records that describe him as a model inmate who "is very reliable and performs with minimal supervision, can be counted upon when needed."
"My family was devastated," Grubor said recently. "I've never been in jail, and I've never been in any trouble. I was never a threat to the community.
"We do need laws, and we do need prisons. But prisons in my opinion are for violent offenders."

Once released, inmates find little help
Resources remain scarce for those striving to restart

Posted: Nov. 27, 2004
Third of four parts
Hill's parole officer was trying to get permission for him to move to Illinois, but it hadn't come through. She gave him two local bus tickets and the names of some shelters and told him to check back in a week.
Hill spent his first night of freedom homeless.
When Ricky Hill was released from prison in October, he had $14 in his pocket and nowhere to live. His wife and six children were waiting in Chicago, but he wasn't allowed to leave the state.
"I thought when we get out, they were supposed to give us some help, some money or something. They didn't do nothing," he said. Before truth in sentencing took effect, a committee mandated by the Legislature worked to identify and head off potential problems with the law's implementation. Among its recommendations was more help for people, such as Hill, when they left prison.
"Wisconsin must strengthen its probation system and develop credible alternatives to prison," the report says.
Its authors hoped that extended supervision - the new name for parole - would be a vast improvement over the old system. The committee recommended that Milwaukee parole officers' caseloads be reduced to 17 and that their budgets be greatly increased in order to help former inmates succeed on the outside.
It hasn't happened.
"The failure to do this because of budget pressures is going to be costly to the state in the long run," said Thomas Barland, who was an Eau Claire County circuit judge when he led the committee.
While the Department of Corrections has begun some programs to address the needs in the four years since truth in sentencing took effect, resources for ex-inmates remain scarce. Many of those released on supervision find themselves back in prison. Most have not been convicted of a new crime; they have simply failed to meet the conditions of supervision, such as keeping appointments with their agents. They may have no work history, no driving privileges and nowhere to live.
Portage County Circuit Judge Frederic Fleishauer believes the system is part of the problem.
"We take their driver's license away and then are surprised when they don't have work," he said. "We preclude them from accomplishing exactly what we're hoping to accomplish."
At the same time, offenders are starting to leave prison with longer supervision terms under truth in sentencing, which gives offenders almost no chance for early release. The law requires extended supervision equal to at least 25% of the prison term, but many judges are far exceeding that.
By 2011, the truth-in-sentencing law will mean more than 2 million extra days of community supervision per year, according to a Journal Sentinel analysis based on records from the Department of Corrections. For inmates admitted through 2025, the extra days of supervision and prison time will cost state taxpayers an estimated $1.8 billion if current trends continue.
"I don't think there's a plan," said Barron County Circuit Judge Edward R. Brunner. "We're doing nothing for them. It's not a wise use of money, and there's no guarantee we're any safer."
With 69,600 offenders on probation, parole or extended supervision this year, the state's parole officers already have caseloads averaging around 60, with some approaching 90. The Department of Corrections is seeking to add 51 officers by June 2007.
30 days to find a job
Across the state, parole officers are charged with helping recently released offenders turn the three keys to success on the outside: employment, housing and drug treatment.
"If they don't find a job within 30 days, it's almost a self-fulfilling prophecy," said the Rev. Joseph Ellwanger, who serves on the board of directors at Project Return, a non-profit agency that helps former prisoners rejoin society.
"If they don't have a job, they're going to go right back to where they were. The state is learning the hard way," he said.
Matthew English is learning the hard way, too. English, 21, said he served as the getaway driver when some friends robbed several Milwaukee taverns because they didn't have jobs and needed money. English, a high school dropout, spent two years in prison and is now serving an additional year on extended supervision.
"I was being stupid," English said.
Over the summer, English managed to get hired as a part-time telemarketer, but he kept getting sent home because he wasn't selling enough. So he quit.
"It's like a revolving door," English said. "Once you get out, you can't get a job. They don't want a felon even flipping hamburgers at McDonald's for minimum wage.Days before I was released I would sit in my room, turn the TV off and think about what I was going to do. How was I going to live? Basically I take everything one day at a time. I don't look to the future."
Searching for housing
Although he remains unemployed, English has a roof over his head. His sister in Brown Deer is allowing him to stay with her.
Not every ex-convict has a family willing to help, and even those who can't always find housing. Federal rules prohibit felons from living in public housing for five years after the crime. Some public housing facilities won't allow sex offenders, no matter how much time has passed. A family member or friend who lets one stay could be evicted. To protect their victims, released inmates with domestic violence convictions or restraining orders against them often are not allowed to move back home.
As a last resort, a parole officer may refer someone to the Salvation Army or the Milwaukee Rescue Mission, but space isn't always available there, either.
The Department of Corrections has a few emergency and transitional housing programs that can provide shelter to people on supervision for up to 90 days. The demand far outweighs the supply, however, and the waiting lists are long.
'Wouldn't call it clean'
Gregory P. Hayes was lucky enough to get a space in one of the Department of Corrections' emergency apartments in July, while serving 18 months of extended supervision. In and out of custody since 1995, he has a history of funding his drug habit through garage burglaries, according to court records.
"The Price Is Right" played on a tiny television set in the sparsely furnished apartment when parole officer Ken Ryback checked in on Hayes, whose days of temporary lodging were nearly up.
"How's the job search going?" Ryback asked.
"Applied at a couple temp places," Hayes replied.
"Have you been using drugs?" Ryback asked.
Hayes shook his head.
"How long have you been clean, then?" Ryback asked.
"Wouldn't call it clean," Hayes replied.
Ryback rephrased his question: "How long has it been since you've used drugs?"
"Close to a month or something," Hayes said.
Ryback said a few words to encourage Hayes in his job search, then reminded him that he would need to find somewhere else to live within the next few days. Ryback headed for the door, knowing all too well what would happen once Hayes was kicked out of the apartment. Records show it's happened before: Hayes uses drugs, then sits outside Walgreens begging for money. The police know he's on supervision, so they hit him with a ticket for loitering, panhandling or public drinking and pick him up. He sinks deeper into debt and gets no closer to stability.
Sure enough, by September, police had used DNA to link Hayes to two more burglaries, and he was arrested again. In November, Hayes pleaded guilty to two burglary counts. He is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 10.
"It's going to be a hard cycle for him to break," Ryback said.
Need for treatment programs
Hayes is among thousands of released inmates who need to conquer their addictions to succeed. Although drug treatment programs are operating inside the state prisons, the waiting lists are long, and many people are released before they are accepted.
The Department of Corrections estimates that 70% of offenders entering the prison system need drug or alcohol treatment. An average of 1,061 offenders still needing treatment will re-enter Milwaukee County every year, according to department projections. On the outside, they find more waiting lists.
"It is . . . essential that probation and extended supervision officers have the funding to see that their clients receive the alcohol and drug treatment that so many need," Barland said recently. "In the absence of that we are going to have higher incarceration rates and probably a higher crime rate than would otherwise be the case."
It's a problem the Department of Corrections is working to solve, Superintendent Matthew J. Frank said.
"What we need to do here is make sure when someone is released if they need alcohol and drug treatment that we get them through a program," he said. "As we look at the system, we need to be focused on re-entry and reintegration. This is a change in philosophy at the department."
A new program at the Sturtevant Transitional Facility is one of several recently begun by the department to address that need. There, addicts who have violated the terms of their supervision receive a final chance to avoid prison.
"If someone has an alcohol problem, putting him in prison isn't going to help," Superintendent Deb Chambers said.
The 90-day program at Sturtevant can accommodate 50 men. Because the program started in January, statistics about its success have not yet been compiled, Chambers said.
In addition, the state this year won a $23 million federal grant to improve access to drug treatment in Milwaukee County. Gov. Jim Doyle said in August that the grant would help an estimated 3,000 people, including 1,000 offenders on supervision, over three years.
Hard road to recovery
While people who have completed treatment are less likely to commit new crimes, it often takes more than one stint in rehab to cure an addiction, experts agree.
Joleen Taliaferro, 46, said she has graduated from drug and alcohol treatment programs nine or 10 times. Her first arrest came in 1976, when she was 18.
Her most recent felony conviction stems from a drunken fight during which she beat her ex-boyfriend's girlfriend into the hospital. She says the other woman hit her first. Taliaferro already was on supervision for drug and weapons charges at the time.
"I beat the crap out of her," she said. "I was drunk. I hit that lady 46 or 47 times."
Taliaferro said she has conquered the crack cocaine problem that led to both dealing and trading sex for the drug. She still drinks the occasional beer, however, despite an alcohol addiction so severe that she used to drink a fifth and a half of Bacardi rum daily.
Taliaferro hopes she'll make it but is far from certain what the future holds.
"The drug game is a dirty game," she said. "I'm getting back into church now, and I just pray every day."

Door on early release closes tightly
Even inmates near death often find sentencing law unyielding

By MARY ZAHN and GINA;Posted: Nov. 21, 2004;Second of four parts;
Dexter H. Harris, 47, fought alcoholism his whole life. Now he was in prison for the second time for drunken driving, and cancer was spreading through his body.
After he had surgery last fall, his family began pleading that he be released to die at home.
Then Harris ran into a little-known provision of a state law implemented four years ago - called truth in sentencing - a law that experts say is one of the harshest in the country.
The law requires that violent and non-violent offenders serve every day of their prison terms. It also eliminates any role for the parole board, which in the past could release offenders who served as little as 25% of their sentences. Early release could be awarded if the board believed an inmate had been rehabilitated, was terminally ill or was no longer a danger to society because of age or infirmity.
Terminally ill inmates such as Harris must now get two doctors to sign affidavits stating that the offender will die within six months - something prison doctors say is almost impossible to predict. Inmates then must get approval from prison officials to petition the sentencing court for a release. They are not entitled to legal help.
While an extreme example, Harris' case illustrates how difficult it is for inmates even facing death to be released from prison early under truth in sentencing.
Petitions for clemency from inmates who believe they have learned their lesson and have served most of their sentence are being routinely blocked by district attorneys. A recent state Supreme Court decision upheld the limitations on early release under truth in sentencing.
In short, the door - for even model prisoners, or aged or ill inmates who want to plead their cases - is tightly closed.
"This was a get-tough-on-crime law. The end," said Barron County Circuit Judge Edward R. Brunner, who signed the petition for Harris' release. "It was, let's put everyone away and who cares what happens to them next. Out of sight, out of mind.
"It's only now that legislators and others are beginning to realize the serious cost to taxpayers and the cost in real lives."
An informal survey of 22 judges around the state found that while many like being able to determine exactly how many years an inmate will serve in prison, that power has become a double-edged sword.
"For me, it boils down to the crystal ball," said Dane County Circuit Judge William Foust, who said he is most troubled by the offenders who receive 10 years or more. "Everyone knows that people change. With truth in sentencing, we don't have a mechanism to evaluate that change the way we had when we had the parole board.
"This business is really about predicting future human behavior, and no one has a perfect crystal ball when it comes to that."
Under the law, judges sentence offenders to an exact number of years in prison and an additional number of years on extended supervision to be served in the community. Some inmates can be released early if they are placed in a short-term treatment program such as boot camp and complete it successfully.
Judges were encouraged by a committee studying how to implement the law to modify their sentences to roughly what offenders would have served under the old parole system.
However, a computer analysis of Department of Corrections and court records by the Journal Sentinel shows that did not happen, and that offenders are serving more time in prison and on community supervision than under the old system.
Harris, for example, who was sentenced to three years in prison on his most recent charge, would have been eligible for parole consideration after serving nine months and would have had to be released after serving about 24 months under the old parole system.
"Are we better off with truth in sentencing? I believe the answer to be yes, because we have more predictability and more control over offenders," Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Elsa Lamelas said. "I frankly feel more comfortable with the notion that there is not a parole board there that may be susceptible to fiscal pressure in the release of offenders. That is s omething that gives me confidence."
Prison population aging
Older inmates such as Harris have increased in number as sentence lengths have increased for both violent and non-violent offenders. The population of inmates 40 and older has more than tripled, from 1,711 in December 1993 to 6,516 in December 2003.
In addition, corrections officials are proposing to open two special geriatric units in existing prisons - in effect, small nursing homes for criminals.
"More inmates are dying in prison due to many different chronic conditions and the imposition of longer prison sentences, creating a need for geriatric and hospice services," a Department of Corrections budget document states.
Release due to the infirmities of old age are limited under the law. In order to petition a court for release, an inmate must be at least 65 and have served at least five years in prison or be at least 60 and have served at least 10 years in prison.
Prison medical care expenditures have more than doubled in five years, from $30,354,830 in fiscal 1999 to $75,595,500 in the year that ended on June 30, 2004, state records show.
Releases blocked
The broadest release provision in the law allows offenders to petition a court for sentence adjustment after they have served 75% or 85% of their time in prison, depending on the crime.
However, authorities said that district attorneys statewide are routinely blocking these petitions. Under truth in sentencing, if a district attorney objects to the petition, it cannot be granted. The same is true if victims in some sexual assault cases object.
"The courts in our area are overwhelmed with volume, and this adds one more thing," Dane County Circuit Judge Daniel Moeser said. "There are no good guidelines or standards or direction. So you have an out to say no if the DA objects. I think the DAs kind of do it for the same reason. They are overwhelmed and overworked, too."
La Crosse County District Attorney Scott Horne, who is also president of the Wisconsin District Attorneys Association, said he supports the district attorney and victim veto provision in the law and said that each case in his office is reviewed on its merits.
"I think what the Legislature is saying is if there is going to be a time cut, there ought to be a consensus that it is an appropriate case for reduction," Horne said.
"From our perspective in this office, we don't blindly say no. We do confer about it and decide what our position on the case ought to be, and I assume most DAs would take that responsibility seriously. It's not something that we would easily agree to, I will say that."
Horne said his office has not received many of these requests, and he could not remember whether he had approved any.
Most judges interviewed for this report said the district attorney in their counties has objected to every single request for sentence modification.
Waukesha County Circuit Judge Mark Gempeler said that even if the requests aren't opposed by prosecutors, judges aren't likely to grant them.
"Judges have to run for office every six years," he said. "Why would a reasonable judge want to swim upstream? It's a question of judicial survival, but it's also a matter of giving the public what it wants."
Supreme Court weighs in
The Wisconsin Supreme Court will hear arguments in December in a case challenging the right of district attorneys to veto these release requests and other matters relating to requests for early release by truth-in-sentencing inmates.
However, in a unanimous decision this year, the high court signaled its reluctance to change the law, citing legislative intent.
The case involved James Crochiere, 29, who pleaded guilty to one count of reckless endangering safety in Marathon County in 2001 and was sentenced to three years in prison and five years on community supervision. He refused to turn his truck off when stopped by police. When the officer tried to remove the keys from the ignition, Crochiere drove away, dragging the officer, who then fell to the ground, records state. Crochiere had two previous convictions for drunken driving as well as other misdemeanor convictions.
Once in prison, Crochiere earned the privilege of working off prison grounds. He got a job maintaining state parks for 24 cents an hour.
After serving 18 months without incident, he petitioned the Marathon County Circuit Court for release, arguing that his previous job, which paid $10 an hour, was available to him and that his child-support obligations were going unpaid while he was in prison.
His situation and apparent rehabilitation was "a new factor" that the court should be allowed to consider in deciding to release him - something the old parole board would have done, Crochiere's attorney, Stephen Weiss, argued in his brief to the Supreme Court after lower courts denied his client's request for release.
"There is simply no logic in a sentencing system that does not provide for some form of review and release due to changed circumstances," Weiss argued.
In its June decision, the state Supreme Court stated:
"To do what Crochiere asks of us would turn circuit courts into parole boards, a result that would change the role of the circuit courts and be inconsistent with the Legislature's intent.
"The Legislature intended that conduct subsequent to incarceration would not reduce an inmate's sentence."
Underfunded commission
As part of truth in sentencing, the Legislature created a state Sentencing Commission to collect data on judicial practices and advise policy-makers on how the law is being implemented.
However, the commission is struggling on a shoestring budget and is not expected to begin analyzing sentencing data until next year. The panel has funding for only two positions, an executive director and a deputy director.
When salaries and benefits are eliminated from the commission's $235,000 budget, it is left with only about $25,000 for data collection and outside help, said Michael Connelly, the commission's executive director.
Connelly was not even hired until January 2004, more than three years after truth in sentencing was implemented. The commission has 19 members representing a cross-section of the criminal justice system, including judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and victim advocates.
Connelly said that by January, the commission expects to provide judges with new sentencing guideline work sheets to help them decide which offenders should be sent to prison and for how long. However, judges are not required to follow the guidelines, which are only advisory. That is one reason Wisconsin's truth-in-sentencing law is considered by experts to be one of the toughest in the nation.
Records show that as of June, more than 50% of the 241 circuit court judges in the state failed to use the currentsentencing guideline work sheets, which have been in place since February 2003. Those numbers have increased in recent months, Connelly said. The work sheets list factors such as age, previous criminal record and type of crime and then suggest a sentencing range. The completed work sheets were to be returned to the commission for analysis.
"The judges are as unguided as ever," said Walter Dickey, a University of Wisconsin Law School professor who was secretary of the Department of Corrections from 1983 to 1987. "They are unguided by either numerical data or policy guidance."
Gov. Jim Doyle is in favor of mandatory sentencing ranges for judges.
"I think there should be judicial discretion. I think the judicial discretion should be much more limited, and that people with similar criminal history backgrounds and who have committed similar crimes should be looking at roughly the same time.
"This is a balance. I do not believe that there should be a computer that kicks out a sentence. Nor do I think there should be wide open anything from zero to 20."
Going home to die
For Dexter Harris, death was his ticket out of prison.
Brunner, the Barron County judge, approved Harris' release on June 9 after family members said they were finally able to get two doctors to agree that he had six months or less to live. However, because of problems arranging community hospice care for Harris, he was not released from prison until July 6. He lived for five weeks, said Harris' sister Betty Moore, who cared for him along with other family members in her Kenosha County home until his death.
"It was so heart-wrenching," said Sarah Bohner, another sister of Harris. "You could have poured a cup of water in his sunken shoulders, and it would have stayed.
"He wasn't a danger. I want to see the law fixed so that other families don't go through what we did, because it's one of the most pitiful things in the world."

Another road to justice
Programs seek to change offenders' thinking, behavior
By GINA BARTON and MARY ZAHN ;; Posted: Nov. 28; 2004 Fourth of four parts
Green Bay - The group of men listens, mesmerized, as Lynn BeBeau talks about the last time she saw her husband alive.
I told him the same thing I always did: 'I love you. Be careful.' "
Her husband grinned back.
"Honey, don't worry about me. Me and God are like this." He held up two crossed fingers and smiled.
Hours later, the Eau Claire police officer was shot to death in the line of duty.
The hulking men in prison greens sit perfectly still as BeBeau fights back tears. They are murderers, armed robbers, drug dealers, child molesters.
Later, convicted killer Ruben Herrera tells BeBeau what her story meant to him.
"I hear you talking about forgiveness. That would be something I would ask for, but it would be selfish," he said in a voice racked with emotion. "I don't have any right to ask for forgiveness or to forgive myself. I don't even know how to go about doing that."
As judges follow the state Legislature's mandate of truth in sentencing, giving prisoners little hope for early release, a movement to help criminals change their thinking - and their behavior - is under way. BeBeau is one of its foot soldiers. Another is former state Supreme Court Justice Janine Geske. Another is Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney David Lerman. Their cohorts fan out across the state, a counterpoint to the proponents of truth in sentencing who believe that longer prison and supervision terms are the answers to the crime problem.
"There are two different philosophies at work," Dane County Circuit Judge Angela Bartell said. "Do people need to be treated, monitored, and considered human resources, or just locked up?"
Department of Corrections Secretary Matthew J. Frank said the two aren't necessarily mutually exclusive.
"Truth in sentencing is not inconsistent with giving judges more options. . . . The challenge here is to be smart on crime and that we give options to our judges to hold people accountable in ways that best protect the public safety," he said.
Changing thinking, behavior
Geske, who sentenced her fair share of defendants to life in prison during her tenure as a Milwaukee County circuit judge, believes people who commit crimes need to change their thinking, whether they're serving time or not. In contemporary terms, the concept is called restorative justice, and it is a far cry from the adversarial court system that is the norm in American courtrooms.
Restorative justice has a long tradition throughout history, including in Native American cultures. It teaches that communities, victims and offenders need to be healed after a crime occurs.
"Unfortunately, most people do not think about how much their actions hurt others," Geske said. "Knowing that information can dramatically affect future behavior."
Challenges and Possibilities, a program at the maximum-security Green Bay Correctional Institution where BeBeau and Geske volunteer, is one way community members are trying to inspire prisoners to change their behaviors. About 30 inmates in a recent semester-long course attended workshops where they interacted with crime victims and with one another.
The prisoners work on their attitudes through group therapy-style discussion, writing and art. Volunteers include victims and survivors of violent crime, who share their stories in hopes that the offenders will think about the consequences of their actions.
During a session this fall at Green Bay, Mayda Crites told the story of her son, Bryon, who was killed by a drunken driver in 1999.
Afterward, inmate Jesse Vega spoke up.
"I don't even want to drink no more," said Vega, who admitted drinking and driving in the past. "I just thank God I didn't hurt anyone.
"Now that I heard you speak, I don't even want to ride a bike anymore. It touched me, what you said, and I'm sorry you had to go through that."
In the Green Bay program, a few volunteers serve as representatives of the people who have been harmed by the inmates. In the Milwaukee County district attorney's office, however, participants in a restorative justice program talk directly to the people they have robbed, defrauded or otherwise harmed.
Neighborhood involvement
Milwaukee County's community conferencing groups include victim, offender, a facilitator and a community representative - ideally someone who lives in the neighborhood where the crime occurred. The parties discuss both the facts of the case and its impact. They may ask each other questions, which often leads to emotional insight.
"There is a ripple effect to many of these crimes," said Lerman, who is in charge of the program.
For example, a simple car theft may prevent the car's owner from getting to work, which could lead to his being fired. A corner drug dealer may intimidate neighbors, keeping their children from playing outside.
Only non-violent offenders who have admitted their crimes may participate in community conferencing. Although the judge may consider it at sentencing, prosecutors make no promises of leniency.
Lerman and Erin Katzfey, who works with him, have seen victims and community members benefit, too, as they gain a greater understanding of the crime. A victim of home burglary, for example, may fear she is being stalked and her home will be violated again. In reality, the offender may have chosen the house at random and already forgotten where it is.
"I like to watch the faces as the dialogues are going on," Katzfey said. "It's humanizing for the victim. They see that this is not a monster that did this thing. It's a person who made a really dumb decision."
Funding will run out
Milwaukee County's community conferencing began in 2000 with a $20,000 grant from the Milwaukee Foundation. The following year, the state Legislature earmarked federal grant money to fund Lerman's full-time position and a similar one in Outagamie County. That funding expires next summer. Lerman is hopeful that it will be renewed or that he will be able to come up with an alternative funding source to continue his work.
Wisconsin isn't the only place where money is an issue. Restorative justice programs around the country - even those touted as amazingly effective - face funding hurdles. For example, in Deschutes County, Ore., the state gave the county the money it would have spent to lock up certain juvenile offenders. In turn, the county spent half the money on rehabilitation and half on prevention. In 2000, Deschutes County received $800,000 from the state.
The Oregon program was hailed as a beacon of corrections reform and copied by municipalities around the country. Nonetheless, its funding was cut during a state budget crisis last year. Today, it continues with local funding, said Wisconsin native Dennis Maloney, who spearheaded the Deschutes County program.
Maloney, now the president of an Oregon consulting firm, formerly served as superintendent at Lincoln Hills school for delinquent juveniles in Wisconsin.
"I would see highly motivated kids getting ready to leave the institution, and the community didn't want them back, even when they'd done their time. Just doing your time doesn't win you redemption in the community," he said.
And without community support, the motivation to stay out of trouble began to slip away. After moving to Oregon, Maloney pioneered a program that allowed young offenders to earn their way back into society through restitution and service. For example, juveniles who have committed serious property crimes build Habitat for Humanity houses, which in turn are given to families affected by domestic violence. They work four to six hours a day, all the while earning money for restitution.
Meanwhile, citizens decided the prevention money should go to things such as parenting classes, home health care for pregnant teens and kindergarten for at-risk children.
As a result of the program, incarceration in Oregon's juvenile institution was reduced by 72%, Maloney said.
"If you don't do this kind of thing, you create an incentive for counties to unload as many people into the state prison system as possible, because they pick up the tab for you," Maloney said. "This model turns it around."
'Not just about punishment'
Restorative justice also saves money indirectly by reducing recidivism, its proponents say.
"Justice is not just about punishment. Prison is not necessarily enough to deter a person from committing crimes, and - (prison) doesn't necessarily help the community," Milwaukee County's Lerman said.
Although restorative justice programs and other creative approaches to rehabilitation can be pricey, many believe they would cost less than prison in the long run.
"There's no question in my mind that as expensive as those programs are, they're a lot cheaper than building prisons," said Oneida County Circuit Judge Robert Kinney. "We're not going to build ourselves out of this problem."

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