MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Tony Evers’ executive budget could include criminal justice reforms as Wisconsin emerges from a tumultuous year of protests over police brutality and racism, setting up another potential conflict with Republicans who have been reluctant to take any action to address police protocols.
Evers told The Associated Press in a year-end interview that he may include criminal justice reforms in the budget that will “hopefully” resolve disparities that exist in the system. He refused to offer any specifics beyond saying he hopes to offer proposals “people will engage on in a positive way,” leaving it unclear whether he wants to reshape police standards or reform the prison system, or both. He did say the state must find a way to resolve problems at Lincoln Hills, the state’s youth prison, and help inmates avoid reoffending.
The nation was seized by widespread Black Lives Matter protests this summer over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Floyd, who was Black, died on Memorial Day after a white police officer pressed his knee into his neck for several minutes, even after Floyd said he couldn’t breathe. Wisconsin saw a number of protests sparked by local police shootings in the southeastern corner of the state as well. In August a white officer in Kenosha shot Jacob Blake, who is Black, in the back during a domestic dispute, triggering several nights of protests. During one of the protests Kyle Rittenhouse, a white 17-year-old from Antioch, Illinois, opened fire on three people, killing two and wounding one.