Scott Walker, J.B. Van Hollen, and pardons in Wisconsin

Over at Cognitive Dissidence, Jeff Simpson thinks Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is to blame for falsely or needlessly imprisoning “thousands” of Wisconsinites.

According to Walker, under the supervision of JB Van Hollen, the Wisconsin Justice Department has falsely or needlessly imprisoned “thousands” of Wisconsinites unnecessarily.

The only problem with Simpson’s statement is that it’s absolutely untrue, because the task of imprisoning individuals falls to the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, an agency Attorney General Van Hollen has absolutely no control over. What’s more, the Department of Corrections only imprisons individuals after those individuals are convicted by the Circuit Courts, which also do not fall under AG Van Hollen’s purview.

While there’s certainly no shortage of things to criticize/attack J.B. Van Hollen for, attacking him for something he actually has no control over is dishonest and only serves to discredit the source of the attack.

The fact is, there’s a lot to be critical of when it comes to Gov. Scott Walker’s refusal to use his power to pardon Wisconsinites who may have been wrongly convicted without needing to resort to dishonest & inaccurate attacks. For example, we can take a trip in the wayback machine to 2011, when I noted how absolutely clueless Gov. Walker was when it comes to what his role is in regards to pardons, with a Walker spokesperson saying at the time that Gov. Walker “believes these decisions are best left up to the courts.” Obviously the Wisconsin Constitution makes it clear that decisions on pardons aren’t “best left up to the courts;” they’re the sole responsibility of the Governor of our state.

Gov. Walker’s refusal to use his constitutionally-granted pardons powers is back in the news after he ruled out the possibility of a pardon for Eric Pizer, a twice-deployed Iraq War veteran who has obtained a college degree since being convicted in 2004 for felony Substantial Battery, his only criminal conviction. Pizer had sought a pardon so that he can pursue his dream of becoming a police officer, a dream that Gov. Walker has made it clear is all but dead.

“If you pick one there’s thousands of other examples out there of people who may not have the media or other outlets behind them, who would be in an equal position who probably have a compelling case to be made that we don’t yet know about,” said Walker in an interview with WKOW.

Gov. Walker’s decision not to use his pardon powers is yet another example of how he governs based on his own political self-interest, rather than actually making a decision that might be unpopular with some portion of the electorate. After all, one only needs look at Gov. Walker’s decision not to make a decision on the proposed Indian casino in Kenosha until after he stands for reelection in 2014 as further proof of that point.


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12 thoughts on “Scott Walker, J.B. Van Hollen, and pardons in Wisconsin

  1. Hey Zach,

    I think Jeff’s OP title is the confusion here. Jeff’s title seems to be restating Walker’s blame of Van Hollen and not Jeff’s blaming of the AG per se.

    Jeff, in his article seems to be putting the onus fully on Walker, as you are doing, the way I read both articles. My two cents.

    My onus is on the overblown weather reporting people, predicting the dire snowstorm for the last two days. 😉

    1. I’m not confused.

      Nowhere in the WKOW piece, which is the ultimate source for Jeff’s entry, does Walker mention AG Van Hollen, nor does he insinuate/imply/assert/explicitly state that Van Hollen is to blame for his lack of pardons. The fact is, the only person who’s blaming AG Van Hollen is Jeff, and his blame is not based in reality for the reasons I pointed out in my piece.

      I understand the desire to kill two bird with one stone by attacking Van Hollen and Walker for Walker’s failure to issue (or even consider) any pardons, but to do so is dishonest.

  2. Several teen friend visitors and home bandwidth router sharing taxed, I now see what I missed. Not trying to cause trouble. Thanks for responding.

  3. I agree Zach, we need to keep the focus on Scott Walker and the Republican Legislature for the high incarceration rate in Wisconsin. Any policy to lower the incarceration rate in Wisconsin is not being introduced or policy that gives elected officials an opportunity to correct current cases such as the pardon is not being used. Attacking Van Hollen is going nowhere, especially now that he is not seeking re-election, plus he really he has no control that Governor Walker and the Republican legislature have at their disposal. Now if we only can find Democrats who do not fear looking weak by fighting for a lower incarceration rate.

    1. Thank you Captain Obvious.

      I understand the governor is not required to issue pardons, but it’s pretty clear why this governor doesn’t want to issue pardons – because he doesn’t want to risk making a decision that would require actual political courage.

      It’s very similar to his decision not to make a decision on the proposed Indian casino in Kenosha until after the 2014 election.

    2. Perhaps Walker’s reluctance in issuing pardons is a learned behavior from some universities reluctance to issue a pardon for unfair and unethical electioneering in student elections. Such an incident was Walker’s first experience as a known “John Doe.”

      More recently, he escaped a second “John Doe” unlike some of his subordinates in his gubernatorial campaign,

      But currently we now we learn of another “John Doe” linking people of his party and association.

      Perhaps, Walker does not pardon because he reserves that privilege only to exercising it on his behalf or his fellow John Does.

  4. Scott Walker remembers creating jobs as assemblyman in Wisconsin . It was easy with ALEC. 32000 UNION public sector jobs. It is not as easy this time with out using your tax dollars. Scott Walker has created ALL Wisconsin`s budget problems working for ALEC. In 1997 Walker and Prosser as state assemblymen championed for ALEC with truth in sentencing telling the legislatures it would not cost a dime it was to give judges not parole boards the control over sentencing. Then Walker filibustered to stop sentencing changes after the fact misleading ALL the legislatures. With out the sentencing changes Wisconsin`s prisons quadrupled over night. Most people sentenced to 2 years now had to serve as much as 6o years. It shows Wisconsin has wasted 100 billion if you add the numbers to the state budget since 1997. Not including the building new or remodeling of 71 courthouses & 71 county jails & 441 police stations and dozens of prisons 28 billion plus interest. The total is over 28 BILLION plus the 60 Billion spent by social services to support prisoners families because the bread winner was a political prisoner as US Att gen Eric Holder explained. Then farming out prisoners in several states until the courts realized it was not allowed in the Wisconsin constitution. Wisconsin then hired 32000 union public sector workers to fill the jobs housing the prisoners from deputies , judges, district attorneys all owe Walker for creating there jobs. 32000 UNION PUBLIC SECTOR JOBS. This cost taxpayers over 3.8 billion or a half million per day to house these EXTRA prisoners per day in Milwaukee county alone. Wisconsin claims it has 24,000 prisoners compared to Minnesota`s 5500. Wisconsin`s corrections population is 104,000 with many in half way house and county jails and county prisons that are not counted.

    1. Thanks for the info and the numbers. Are there links available to where you found these thing so that we can share when pointing this out to others. You sound like you are possibly a public employee with access, don’t give anything that may risk your position though. Thanks again.

      1. We fought to stop 2 county jails and the 3rd idea won. the powers that be refused to take no for an answer. We knew walker had championed the truth in sentencing for ALEC. David prosser, scott walker, and tommy Thompson were members of ALEC as we knew then. Then walker filibustered the legislature refusing o change the sentencing guide lines as he promised ALECF. This is all public knowledge you can google. Then Wisconsin sent prisoners to several states. Walker was one the top of david kochs list then. Then the state finally read the state constitution that does not allow private prisons. that constitution always gets in scottys way. So then the prisoners came home and we had to hire people to house the prison explosion. Every number came from state websites. the number of public sector workers exploded to all thanks to walkers truth in sentencing. walkers ideals and Kochs profit margine have cost the Wisconsin taxpayers over 100 billion and counting. The UW Marquette study and there numbers is where I got almost everything. If not everything.

        1. I believed you, our county needed new space 20 years ago but not the complex that got built, we are importing inmates to keep it full and to supplement keeping operational expenses paid. Thanks again.

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