Wisconsin Senator Lena Taylor speaks out against mandatory minimums

In response to Assembly Bill 220, a proposed plan to reduce violent gun crimes in Wisconsin by employing mandatory minimums to convicts, Senator Lena Taylor of the 4th District has published an article in which she enumerates the arguments against the use of mandatory minimums.

Authored by Representatives Joel Kleefisch and LaTonya Johnson, the bill suggests a mandatory minimum sentencing of an additional 3 to 8 years of incarceration for individuals who commit a “violent crime” within five years of being released from prison for a felony. The 3 to 8 years would be in addition to the amount of jail time an individual would normally be given after committing a “violent crime.”

Sen. Taylor lists four major reasons to oppose this new bill. First, Wisonsin already employs a punishment for gun crimes: “up to ten years in prison and a $10,000 fine.” Second, the new bill defines “violent crimes” by the use of a wide range of weapons, going far beyond a gun law. Third, adding between 3 and 8 years to an inmate’s incarceration can raise the cost by between $100,000 and $250,000 per inmate. Fourth, Sen. Taylor argues that the bill is not ruled by hard facts and data, but rather by an emotional appeal that is unfounded in truth.

While it is important for government officials and law enforcement officers to come up with an effective plan for reducing violent crimes in our state, it is becoming clear that this proposal may not be the best plan.