I recently attended a presentation about the 11x15 initiative to reduce the Wisconsin prison population. Since I have volunteered at Huber Facility as part of a Bible study for a few years, I was interested to learn more about this issue.
The first question that I suspect you have is what does the phrase 11x15 mean? The goal is to lower the prison population from around 22,000 to 11,000 by the end of the year 2015. This would bring our numbers closer to Minnesota and Maine which the Frequently Asked Questions sheet claims are "states with comparable crime rates and demographics."
Now, I bet someone is yelling that I am being soft on crime. We can't allow violent offenders out just to save money. I agree. We need to provide alternatives to prison such as our drug court, alcohol court, and the day report center. We can expand these programs and still manage to save money by reducing our prison population. The 11x15 website states "Alternatives to incarceration save taxpapers a great deal of money. Most save at least $2 for every dollar spent."
I suspect someone is now saying "But, does these programs work? I remember a person who was out on probation who commited another crime." The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel had an article that stated that the day report center had an 89% successful completion rate. This includes supervision by a case manager, drug testing and other services. One of my textbooks from Waukesha County Technical College (Drugs and Society: Eighth Edition by Glen Hanson, Peter Venturelli and Annette Fleckenstein) says "Jurisdictions that have implemented drug court programs also report significantly lower arrest, conviction, and drug usage rates for both drug court participants and graduates."
To learn more about this initiative, please visit PrayforJusticeinWI.org.