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Religious groups push Legislature to cut prison population by half


MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - Religious groups say their biggest lobbying priority in the state Legislature is to reduce the prison population by half.

The Wisconsin Council of Churches has been pushing a plan called “11-by-15” – with the goal of using drug courts and alternative treatment programs to reduce the prison population to 11,000 by 2015.

It was the main topic when religious activists and leaders met in Madison this month to set their lobbing priorities for the new session. The group also wants the state to spend $75 million on the new programs – something majority Republicans have resisted in the past.

Second-term Assembly Republican Scott Krug of Wisconsin Rapids says the prevailing thought in the Legislature is to continue to be, “tough on crime instead of smart on crime.”

Krug says it could be 2017 or ’19 before the prison population could be sizably cut. In his words, “We have to be realistic that the will of the Legislature takes some time to change.”