WEST BEND, Wis. — Republican candidate for governor Tim Michels said Monday that he doesn’t want to pause all paroles, but he does want to appoint a chair of the Wisconsin Parole Commission whose goal will not be reducing the prison population.
Michels has made the parole process, and overall concerns about crime and public safety, a cornerstone of his campaign against Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. Michels earlier called on Evers to halt all paroles in the state.
On Monday, Michels highlighted what he said are problems with the current parole process by discussing the case of Floyd Marlow, a convicted murderer who was arrested last week after being paroled in January. He had served 22 years of a 40-year sentence for killing a Milwaukee man in 1999 before he was paroled .
“We need to have a shift in the cultural thinking of the parole commission,” Michels said during a news conference Monday at the West Bend Sheriff’s Department. Michels added he would not stop the process of parole, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
Evers did not respond to a request for comment Monday. Governors appoint the head of the commission but do not make individual parole decisions.
Marlow’s arrest was first reported by the conservative website Wisconsin Right Now, which has been publishing stories about criminals being paroled under Evers for more than a month. It has also sued Evers to get parole records.
Marlow was charged as a repeat offender in Washington County Circuit Court on Oct. 21 with possession of a firearm by a felon, carrying a concealed weapon and operating a firearm while intoxicated.
Marlow’s release was discretionary, meaning the Wisconsin Parole Commission decided he was eligible for release.
By law, a person is eligible for parole after serving 25% of their sentence. Those individuals sentenced to life in prison for crimes committed before July 1, 1988, become eligible for parole after serving 13 years and four months in prison.
In general, people serving non-life sentences are required by law to be released on parole after serving two-thirds of their sentence in prison.
Parole became a campaign issue in the spring when the family of a woman slain by Douglas Balsewicz began a public campaign against his scheduled parole.
During the gubernatorial debate on Oct. 14, Evers pointed out that he called for the resignation of Parole Board Chairman John Tate II following Balsewicz’s release.
During the debate, Evers said there are many issues in the state’s criminal justice system that could be helped with an increase in shared revenue for local law enforcement.