MILWAUKEE — Monday morning, Attorney General Josh Kaul announced proposed legislation to create safer communities throughout Wisconsin. The price tag would be $115 million.
His plan is to reduce crime and support stronger communities in Wisconsin.
"Safer Wisconsin" has four key goals. They include:
- Strengthening community trust and preventing crime
- Keeping guns out of the hands of people who’ve been shown to be dangerous
- Addressing substance use disorder and mental health crises.
- Holding offenders accountable.
"We need to take concrete action as soon as possible to make communities safer," Kaul said.
Concrete actions such as additional funding to reduce violence and greater investment in mental health and diversion programs.
"We are proposing a $20 million investment in community policing and prosecution," Kaul stated. "We're also calling for a $10 million investment in those programs to help those struggling with substance use disorder or a mental health crisis."
Rogers Behavioral Health Chief Medical Officer Jerry Halverson told us investments like these are crucial to divert more cases from the prison system.
"Unfortunately, if you do not get your mental illness treated, you can end up putting yourself in a position that could have you cross paths with law enforcement," Halverson said.
Kaul said mental health courts would help place people where they need to be.
"Hopefully divert more of those cases away from the emergency detention system," Kaul said. "Right now everybody is going to jail, and this is going to allow us to take some of these people that are very unlikely to reoffend and make sure they get the right treatment," Halverson added.
With this comprehensive plan, Kaul believes Wisconsin would be in a great place.
"This is a nationwide trend we are seeing," Kaul said. "I want Wisconsin to be on the forefront of taking action to respond to the shootings we are seeing, to the substance use disorder we are seeing, and we have a surplus. We have a real opportunity right now to invest resources in communities."
Kaul said that he hopes the state legislature can back this plan in its entirety, and if not, at least pick certain parts and work to pass them.
To read the full proposed legislation, click here.