Some prison guard positions would be reduced, and programs aimed at juvenile offenders would be moved from the state Department of Corrections to the agency that oversees children under Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposal.
The budget would also give the state’s public defenders money to hire staff and take on more cases, increase funding for domestic violence shelters and add a treatment program for drug-addicted offenders.
Walker’s budget eliminates most third-shift tower guard positions at Wisconsin prisons, saving about $6 million over two years. The governor recommended instead using technology and ground patrols to keep the prisons secure overnight.
The budget also calls for transferring about $95 million in youth and family aid programs from the Department of Corrections to the Department of Children and Families. It’s a move meant to “align similar programs,” according to the governor’s office.
By shifting the programs and cutting guard positions, state aid to the Department of Corrections would fall from $1.18 billion in fiscal 2015 to $1.08 billion by fiscal 2017, the second year of Walker’s budget.
Other criminal justice system initiatives include:
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• $5 million to the Department of Children and Families for grants to domestic violence shelters.
• $4.9 million over two years to the state public defender’s office, allowing the agency to create 35 full-time positions. That would let the agency take on more cases and, Walker’s office says, ultimately save the state $6.7 million that would have gone to paying private attorneys for representation public defenders couldn’t provide.
• $2 million to expand services for child victims of human trafficking.
• $836,700 for a Department of Corrections pilot program to treat offenders whose conviction is related to an opiate addiction.
• $420,000 to fund GPS tracking of people who violate domestic abuse restraining orders or those “convicted of serious child offenses.”