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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Issue of the Week: Sheriff Clarke’s Boot Camp Fantasy

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Looks like Sheriff David Clarke has returned from another right-wing law enforcement conference.

The Democrat-on-the-ballot-only has announced he wants to launch a military-style boot camp at the Milwaukee County Correctional Facility whether you like it or not.

“With my constitutional authority, if I have to, I’ll do it unilaterally,” he told a reporter.

Clarke eventually wants all inmates to participate in 90-day boot camp programs, saying they’ll leave the facility with a new outlook on life and changed behavior.

But is that true? According to the Bush-era U.S. Department of Justice, boot camps just don’t have the impact that tough-on-crime law-and-order conservatives like Clarke are seeking. According to a 2003 report, released when John Ashcroft was the attorney general, some boot camp participants reported short-term changes in attitudes and behaviors. But “these positive changes did not lead to reduced recidivism.” The federal government’s General Accounting Office surveyed boot camps in federal prisons and also failed to find reduced recidivism rates.

So while Clarke may be posturing for the conservatives who support him at the polls, don’t believe the hype that his one-man marching orders will prevent those convicted of crimes from committing more crimes in the future.

Hero of the Week

Erik Lindberg of Transition Milwaukee

As co-founder of Transition Milwaukee, Erik Lindberg encourages people to reduce their environmental footprints. Transition Milwaukee, together with the Riverwest Neighborhood Association and other local groups, issued a “Power Down Milwaukee” challenge the week of June 21-27. The “staycation” saw participants turn off phones and computers, get out of their cars and join neighbors for community workshops and projects designed to foster awareness of our dependency on the energy grid.

The festivities culminated with an Energy Independence Day celebration in Gordon Park on July 5, with family activities and entertainment on a stage powered by bicycle generators.

Readers who wish to get involved or learn more about how to increase their energy independence are urged to visit the Transition Milwaukee website at transitionmilwaukee.ning.com.

Jerk of the Week

Gerald Fox, Jackson County District Attorney

Talk about jumping the gun! In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Chicago’s tough handgun ban, Jackson County District Attorney Gerald R. Fox has decided that he won’t prosecute people for carrying concealed weapons, keeping guns in cars, carrying guns in public buildings or being armed where alcohol is served. Fox argues that the court’s decision makes those Wisconsin laws “unconstitutional”—immediately. So much for the power of the state courts and Legislature, hey? The fact is that the Chicago case has nothing to do with Wisconsin’s concealed carry ban. And even uber-conservative Justice Samuel Alito wrote that the decision doesn’t prevent states and municipalities from passing “reasonable” gun regulations. We suggest that Fox follow the law and not turn Jackson County into the Wild West, or resign from office for not fulfilling his responsibilities.