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Marquette Professor Asks: Is Wisconsin Too Tough on Crime?

Jan. 10, 2017
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At the end of 2016, Wisconsin housed over 22,000 prison inmates, according to the Department of Corrections. Similar to other states across the nation, the number of inmates in Wisconsin has ballooned since the 1970s, rising nearly tenfold over the past four decades.

In his new book, Wisconsin Sentencing in the Tough-on-Crime Era, Marquette law professor Michael O’Hear chronicles the current state of mass incarceration in the nation by profiling the policies and laws that have been enforced across the Badger state. In this eye-opening account, O’Hear draws out lessons from the Wisconsin experience to tell a broader tale of the current state of the American justice system. Largely as a result of controversial policies including mandatory sentencing and “three strikes” laws, prisons—in Wisconsin and elsewhere—have grown overcrowded, taxpayers have shelled out millions to fund aging facilities, and inmates and their families have suffered untold miseries. Wisconsin Sentencing in the Tough-on-Crime Era is a political and social history that shares a dynamic story of national criminal justice trends as well as statewide efforts at prison reform.

O’Hear was editor-in-chief of the Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities and served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal. After practicing civil and criminal litigation in Chicago, he joined the faculty at Marquette University in 2000. O’Hear will speak at Boswell Book Co. at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 17.

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