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State corrections head says national report supports Doyle's prisoner release plan

State corrections' secretary Rick Raemisch says a new national report re-affirms Gov. Jim Doyle's prison strategy.

The Pew Center on the States said Wisconsin's incarceration rate exploded by over 400 percent over the last quarter century.

The Badger State now has one person in jail or prison for every 109 residents, the 28th highest rate in the country.

The Pew report said cash-strapped states should cut their prison costs by granting early releases and putting more offenders on probation.

That's exactly what Doyle wants to do. His budget would grant early release and extended supervision based on good behavior, end probation reporting requirements for non-violent misdemeanors, and stop the 24-hour tracking of sex convicts with the lowest risk to re-offend.

Pew says it only costs about $3.50 a day to put an offender on probation, compared to $80 a day to keep the same person behind bars - often with the same results.

Majority Democrats in the state Legislature say they're at least open to Doyle's plans.

But Assembly Republican Scott Suder of Abbotsford says early releases would increase a criminal's odds of re-offending, not decrease them as the governor claims.

If the state wants to save money, Suder says it should reduce overtime and health costs within the corrections' agency.