More Wisconsin inmates serving time for violent crimes, drunken driving

Weekly Fiscal Facts are provided by the Wisconsin Policy Forum, the state’s leading resource for nonpartisan state and local government research and civic education. The Wisconsin Public Policy Forum logo can be downloaded here.


More Wisconsin inmates serving time for violent crimes, drunken driving

A growing share of Wisconsin’s prison inmates are serving time for violent crimes. Their numbers rose from 59.4 percent of inmates in 2006 to 66.0 percent in 2017. Meanwhile, the shares of inmates whose most serious offenses involve either property crimes or drugs have declined (from 17.7 percent to 13.8 percent for property and from 14.9 percent to 11.4 percent for drugs) in the same period. Inmates convicted under a fourth category, “public order” offenses that include repeat drunken driving, rose from 8.0 percent to 8.9 percent.

Generally, violent crimes and repeat drunken driving offenses are considered more serious by judges, prosecutors and the public and, therefore, often receive longer sentences. Inmates sentenced under “truth in sentencing” also generally face more time behind bars.

In either case, Department of Corrections figures show inmates currently in prison have more time left to serve than those who committed crimes before “truth in sentencing” took effect in 2000. The share of inmates with less than a year remaining dropped from 31.0 percent in 2000 to 27.3 percent in 2017, while those with five years or more remaining increased from 24.5 percent to 32.1 percent.

This information is a service of the Wisconsin Policy Forum, the state’s leading resource for nonpartisan state and local government research and civic education.