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Scott Walker’s Record on Criminal Justice & Public Safety

As Chair of the State Assembly Corrections Committee in His Early Years Scott Walker Toed the Early 1990’s GOP Party Line on Crime

As chair of the State Assembly Corrections Committee in his early years Scott Walker toed the early 1990’s GOP party line on crime — supporting mandatory minimum sentencing laws and building more prisons.

That he parlayed his tough on crime rhetoric into campaign contributions from the special interests that built prisons and housed the overflow of Wisconsin inmates in out of state facilities raises the ever present question: were his actions motivated by a concern, however misguided, for the public good or was he using his position at the time to advance himself?

His positions on the issue of concealed carry of firearms provides clues. Representing solidly Republican suburban ring communities around the City of Milwaukee, Walker supported legislation to allow the carrying of hidden weapons. But when running for Milwaukee County Executive, Walker voted against concealed carry legislation. As he again eyes higher office and seeks to woo right-wing Republicans by touting his conservative bona fides Walker forgets his past vote against a concealed carry bill and touts his efforts to roll back gun safety laws in Wisconsin.

Days before Tony Robinson shooting, Wisconsin DOJ requested more funds...

Just a few days before an unarmed, 19-year-old black man was shot and killed by a Madison police officer, Wisconsin's attorney general had asked lawmakers to fund more positions to investigate officer-involved deaths...Gov. Scott Walker last April signed into law a bill requiring outside agencies to investigate officer-involved shootings. The legislation was championed by Reps. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, and Gary Bies, R-Sister Bay, in response to three high-profile officer-involved deaths in the last decade. Wisconsin was the first state in the nation to pass such a law. In order to implement the law, the state Department of Justice under then-Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen requested $352,600 in 2015-16 and $386,000 in 2016-17, and 5 full-time positions annually, to investigate officer-involved deaths and review public records associated with those investigations. Walker did not fund the request in his biennial budget, introduced in February.

[Capital Times, 03/10/2015]

Attorney general wants positions for officer-involved deaths

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel wants the Legislature's budget committee to give the state Justice Department more positions in the state budget to deal with officer-involved death investigations. Lawmakers signed a bill last year that requires outside agencies to lead investigations of officer-involved deaths. Attorney General Brad Schimel told the Joint Finance Committee on Monday that more agencies are turning to the DOJ to handle such investigations. The agency asked Gov. Scott Walker to include funding for five new positions -- three agents and two records specialists -- to help with the workload. Walker didn't include the request in his budget proposal.

[WMTV-TV, 03/02/2015]

NRA to Gov. Walker: ‘Thanks a Million’

The National Rifle Association is trying to revive the flailing campaign of Gov. Scott Walker by placing a $1 million television buy for the next month in several markets around Wisconsin. The $1 million buy covers markets in La Crosse, Green Bay and Wausau.

[One Wisconsin Now, 09/16/2014]

Judge Says Man With Domestic Violence Record Can Carry...

Van Bober's attorney Mark Maciolek said the judge gave the order because there was no transcript of the original plea; therefore, it wasn't clear whether the conviction triggered the federal gun ban for anyone with a domestic violence conviction. “The judge concluded was that there was no way to tell if my client had admitted to engaging in violent conflict or if he'd admitted otherwise disorderly conduct,” said Maciolek. The ruling demonstrates a loophole in the domestic violence gun ban, according to Tony Gibart of End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin. Gibart said disorderly conduct is the most common domestic violence charge, and violent conduct is often pled down to a misdemeanor charge. He said keeping guns out of the hands of domestic abusers is complicated because it involves enforcing both state and federal law. “They don't interact with each other perfectly — it's not a perfect fit,” said Gibart. “So you have these kinds of cases that depend on transcripts that are many years old or are no longer available.” [Wisconsin Public Radio, 07/15/2014]

Walker championed “truth in sentencing” law while in the...

Neighboring Minnesota has a similar crime rate to Wisconsin and similar demographics, but thanks in part to Walker's harsh sentencing law, Wisconsin has two-and-a-half times as many people in prison. Minnesota has more people on parole or in community-based corrections, and because those alternative approaches cost twenty times less than incarceration, Minnesota spends significantly less than Wisconsin on corrections. And, Minnesota locks up far fewer African-American men than Wisconsin: 5.8 percent in Minnesota versus 13 percent in Wisconsin. [Truth-out, 06/23/2014]

In Response to Mass Shooting, Walker Said Arming School Officials...

In the wake of the country's latest mass shooting, Gov. Scott Walker said Wednesday that more should be done to help mentally troubled individuals and that arming school officials should be "part of the discussion." Walker called for a summit involving top mental health professionals from around the state early next year...And Walker said that he would not rule out allowing school employees with firearms training to carry guns to fight back against armed intruders.

[Wisconsin State Journal, 12/20/2012]

Crime and Courts: Interesting twist — GOP issued warning of fanatics...

Scot Ross, the director of the liberal group One Wisconsin Now, couldn’t pass up a comment on the irony. He sent me Courtney’s letter, which is attached to this post, with the following comment: “With Scott Walker and the Republicans, you always follow the money. In May, they used the threat of guns in the Capitol to raise money. And in October they want to allow guns in the Capitol to raise money from the NRA.”

[Capital Times, 10/10/2011]

Signed into law “Concealed Carry” bill

Walker signed into law SB 93, the “Conceal Carry” legislation, which allows individuals to go armed with a firearm, loaded or not, and concealed or openly carried. Loaded firearms are also now generally allowed in vehicles with a concealed carry permit. The law specifies that an individual carrying a firearm openly or concealed cannot be charged with disorderly conduct. The individual can even openly load a firearm. Handguns, but not other types of guns, are allowed in public parks and wildlife refuges, however all firearms are prohibited within 1,000 feet of school grounds. The bill passed the Senate 25-8 and Assembly 68-27, and was signed into law by Walker on 7/8/11. (2011 SB 93, introduced 5/10/2011; Senate Roll Call; Assembly Roll Call)

[2011 WI Act 35, 07/08/2011]

Walker Repealed Racial Profiling Law

Walker signed into law a bill that repealed a racial profiling law that took effect in January of 2011 that requires police to collect the age, ZIP code, gender and ethnicity of stopped drivers and their passengers to determine if police are engaging in racial profiling. (2011 SB 15, introduced 2/2/11; Senate Roll Call; Assembly Roll Call) [2011 WI Act 29, 06/22/2011]

Walker signed bill ending system tracking possible racial profiling

Police officers will no longer have to collect traffic-stop data to track possible racial profiling, under a bill signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Scott Walker. The bill, which passed the Senate in February and the Assembly June 8, will reverse a state mandate requiring Wisconsin's 600 law enforcement agencies to collect racial and other data on drivers pulled over by officers. Opponents of the mandate say the repeal will eliminate unnecessary paperwork for law enforcement and cut costs, while supporters of the mandate say the data-collection system helps keep track of potential racial profiling. "During tight budget times we need to set priorities in all areas of government, and this bill allows law enforcement agencies to focus on doing their job - protecting and serving the public," Walker said in a statement.

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 06/22/2011]

Walker signed bill ending system racial profiling tracking program

Republican Gov. Scott Walker has killed a statewide mandate on police to gather racial data during traffic stops. Walker signed a GOP bill Wednesday that ends requirements that officers collect the age, zip code, gender and ethnicity of drivers and passengers. Democrats passed the requirements when they controlled the Legislature, arguing the data will prove whether racial profiling exists in Wisconsin. Some police have countered the requirements are too time-consuming. Walker issued a statement saying the data-gathering effort is burdensome and police should be allowed to do their jobs.

[Wisconsin State Journal, 06/22/2011]

Walker’s budget ended early release programs for prisoners

On the chopping block in Walker’s two-year budget proposal are early release programs for prisoners, in-state college tuition for the children of illegal immigrants, mandatory insurance coverage of contraceptives, college financial aid for high school grads who are good citizens and public financing for Supreme Court campaigns...Walker wants to repeal an inmate early release program enacted two years ago and revert to a 1999 truth-in-sentencing law he sponsored as an Assembly member that requires prisoners to serve their entire sentence without time taken off for good behavior. Doyle had touted the early release program as a way to both save money and relieve prison crowding. [Associated Press, 03/09/2011]

Lawmakers pass bill protecting homeowners who shoot intruders

A state group representing more than 600 criminal defense lawyers, prosecutors, judges and academics also opposes the castle doctrine bill. "AB 69 changes Wisconsin law by providing a defense for irrational people armed with deadly force. Under its provisions, malevolent, reckless, or paranoid people who shoot trick-or-treaters or repairmen on their porch will be presumed to be acting in self-defense," reads a statement issued this week on behalf of the criminal law section of the State Bar of Wisconsin…"At present, no member of the criminal law section of the State Bar, which is made up of judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and academics, can come up with a single case wherein a homeowner was charged with a crime for defending himself or herself from a home intruder," the memo reads.

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 02/04/2011]

Walker Signed “Castle Doctrine” Law Giving Legal Immunity to...

A state group representing more than 600 criminal defense lawyers, prosecutors, judges and academics also opposes the castle doctrine bill. "AB 69 changes Wisconsin law by providing a defense for irrational people armed with deadly force. Under its provisions, malevolent, reckless, or paranoid people who shoot trick-or-treaters or repairmen on their porch will be presumed to be acting in self-defense," reads a statement issued this week on behalf of the criminal law section of the State Bar of Wisconsin…"At present, no member of the criminal law section of the State Bar, which is made up of judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and academics, can come up with a single case wherein a homeowner was charged with a crime for defending himself or herself from a home intruder," the memo reads. [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 02/04/2011]

Public Safety Officials Warned Walker Furloughs Could Compromise Public...

“Unpaid furloughs ordered to help balance Milwaukee County's 2010 budget could compromise public safety, according to law enforcement and court officials. The impact of furloughs -- or other substitute budget cuts - -could range from slower prosecutions to delayed trials and criminal arrest warrants, the officials said. Restraining orders in domestic violence cases also might be slowed, they said. The furloughs may force him to make ‘triage decisions’ in which charges for lesser crimes are delayed or skipped so prosecutors can focus on serious felony cases, said District Attorney John Chisholm.”

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 01/18/2010]

Walker Gave Up Control of House of Correction and Transferred to...

“The board did not disrupt Walker's plan to place oversight of the House of Correction under Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr. and merge it with Clarke's operation of the county jail. Under the change, Walker would give up his management responsibility over the House of Correction and county work-release center. The center came under fire in a federal audit early this year. Holloway said he wasn't enthusiastic about that change, but noted supervisors had little choice because of some $3 million in savings linked to the merger. Supervisors ordered a specific merger plan by July 1 and use of the National Institute of Corrections audit as the blueprint for changes at the House of Correction.”

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 11/11/2008]

Walker’s House of Correction Mistakenly Released Inmates, Had Over 50...

“Also Thursday, Malone released a report showing the House of Correction has mistakenly released six inmates since April 2005 and the downtown work-release center has had 54 inmates who left without permission since 2003. The minimum-security center downtown can't lock its doors overnight when inmates are supposed to be confined because the converted 1930s hospital building is a fire hazard.… The jail is run by Clarke, while the House of Correction and work-release center are the responsibility of Walker.”

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 03/07/2008]

Federal Reports Slams Milwaukee County Lockups

“The Milwaukee County House of Correction in Franklin and the downtown work-release center come under severe criticism in a new federal report, which calls the operations seriously flawed and marred by security lapses, bad management, poor employee morale and crowded conditions. Both facilities also have serious fire safety shortcomings, including inoperative alarms and no sprinklers at the work-release center. The report, by the National Institute of Corrections, calls for a major overhaul of operations and suggests that the county plan to build additional lockups and consider merging the county jail with the House of Correction under management of a single department.”

[Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 01/25/2008]

Walker Didn’t ‘Believe in Concealed Carry Anymore’ During First...

What Walker tells the voters today doesn't seem to bear any resemblance to what he might tell them tomorrow. Example: Walker has been a co-sponsor of a bill in the Legislature that would allow people to carry concealed weapons. Never mind that the bill would increase the guns on the street at a time when homicide is the leading cause of death among young African Americans. Never mind that the bill would endanger the lives of police officers, who oppose concealed carry laws. Well, just plain never mind. When the state Assembly recently passed concealed carry, Walker voted against it. Apparently, when you're running for an office that includes Milwaukee, which regularly loses its children to gun violence, you suddenly don't believe in concealed carry anymore. Walker's position on cutting state shared revenue to Milwaukee County is even more of a hypocritical flip-flop.

[Capital Times, 04/13/2002]

Walker Voted to Shield Gun Industry From Lawsuits

The bill would have granted, “firearm importers, manufacturers, dealers and trade associations immunity from civil liability in any action brought by an individual or group for an injury or death caused by a firearm or by firearm ammunition.” (Assembly Journal)

[1999 AB 246, 02/08/2000]

Walker pushed for private prisons

Rep. Scott Walker sees the future for Wisconsin's overburdened prison system, and it doesn't involve a massive building campaign by the state. Instead, Walker, R-Wauwatosa, the chairman of the Assembly Committee on Corrections and the Courts, envisions a landscape dotted with shiny new corrections facilities, built and operated by private prison companies. And he's introduced a pair of bills that would pave the way. Walker's proposals go way beyond pending legislation to buy or lease the Stanley prison from a private company. That prison would be operated by the state. One of Walker's proposals would hand over the operation of Wisconsin state prisons to private companies, allowing them to take on a responsibility the state has held exclusively since 1851. No action has been taken yet on that bill. His other proposal would clear the way for private companies to incarcerate convicts from other states, opening Wisconsin to a free-market trade in U.S. prisoners. That bill passed through Walker's committee last week and may reach the full Assembly in November. [Capital Times, 10/28/1999]