MADISON, Wis. — This week, Tim Michels released two different TV ads making false claims about Governor Evers’ role in making parole decisions in order to scare Wisconsin voters and further divide our state. Michels has repeatedly failed to understand the facts surrounding Wisconsin’s parole system, and recently received a “Pants on Fire” rating from Politifact for a parole claim they called “false and ridiculous.”
Fact Check: Michels’ campaign claimed, “Evers released hundreds of violent criminals from prison.”
- In Wisconsin, only the parole chair can decide who gets let out of prison on parole. While the governor appoints the parole chair, he does not make any parole decisions.
- When it became clear the parole chair’s judgment was in doubt, Gov. Evers asked for and received his resignation.
- While the parole chair, John Tate never received a full confirmation hearing, he was unanimously recommended (5-0) for confirmation by the Republican controlled Committee on the Judiciary and Public Safety. If Republicans in the legislature were unhappy with his performance, they could simply have put his confirmation to a vote in the full Senate and rejected his confirmation. Instead, Republicans like Tim Michels play political games while Gov. Evers has actually held people accountable.
- Of the criminals released under Gov. Evers’ administration, nearly half were not optional; their release was required by law after their sentences were set by judges. In Wisconsin, some paroles are discretionary and others are required by law, usually when an inmate reaches two-thirds of their sentence. The parole commission has oversight over both discretionary and mandatory parole.
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: “Evers appoints the chairperson to the state parole commission, but does not make parole decisions. The commission chairman has authority over parole and the commission is required by state law to regularly interview eligible inmates. In many cases paroles are mandatory under state law.”
- The Journal Times: “Paroles are decided by a state commission that operates independently of the governor.”
- AP News: “While the governor decides who is granted a pardon, he does not control paroles. That is done by the four-member parole commission that is given independent authority under state law to determine whether an inmate is eligible after serving a certain portion of their sentence. The governor appoints the chair of the commission, who is subject to confirmation by the state Senate.”
Fact Check: In another ad, Michels’ campaign claimed “on crime, Tony Evers is dangerously wrong.”
The reality is that Gov. Evers has prioritized community safety, while Republican lawmakers have opposed common sense gun legislation. Additionally, Evers’ parole commission has released far fewer inmates than under previous Republican administrations.
- Evers’ parole commission has released fewer inmates via discretionary parole than Governor Scott Walker, and nearly 50x less than Governor Tommy Thompson, who presided over record releases in the 90s, leading to political criticism and the resignation of his parole chair.
- Scott Walker’s administration granted over 650 discretionary paroles during his time in office.
- Tommy Thompson’s administration granted 23,000 discretionary paroles during his tenure as governor. Governor Thompson has also endorsed Michels in his race for Governor.
- Criminals paroled under Walker and Thompson include hundreds of violent criminals including murderers, rapists, and child molesters.
- Gov. Evers is committed to keeping violent criminals off the streets. In April of this year, Evers signed a bill to prevent violent criminals and sex offenders from being released early from prison in the future. Evers’ bill would also prevent violent criminals and sex offenders from being released early on probation in the future.
- Gov. Evers is taking action to fund our police and keep our communities safe. Evers has devoted over $100 million to law enforcement and violence prevention in Wisconsin. He has directed funding to every single local and tribal law enforcement agency in Wisconsin, and increased pay for state troopers by 10%. Gov. Evers has devoted $10 million to fight crime in Milwaukee alone, including over $2 million in direct response to shootings in downtown Milwaukee this summer.