In 2009, the Wisconsin Legislature enacted comprehensive criminal sentencing reforms under 2009 Wisconsin Act 28 in an effort to shrink the State’s swollen corrections budget and reduce the impending multi-billion dollar deficit. However, the new early release procedures sparked bitter partisan debate among state leaders, culminating in the repeal of the early release amendments a mere two years later. This Comment focuses on one of the early release amendments reserved for ill and elderly inmates, termed “compassionate release.” The Comment traces the history of compassionate release legislation in Wisconsin and outlines arguments in support and opposition of the program. The Comment urges that compassionate release is a safe, fiscally attractive method to reduce corrections spending and overcrowding in Wisconsin prisons, and it concludes by suggesting further reforms to encourage bipartisan support of the recently amended program.

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