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By D.L. Davis July 5, 2022

Promise to work toward cutting prison population in half stalls

During his 2018 campaign, now-Gov. Tony Evers said he supported the "goal" of cutting the Wisconsin prison population in half.

Evers noted it was a long-term effort that couldn't be done in a single term. So we're evaluating this one based on how much progress has been made in that direction, and if it's based on actions by Evers.

In a January 2021 email to PolitiFact Wisconsin, Evers spokesperson Britt Cudaback noted that the prison population had dropped from more than 23,000 in 2019, when Evers took office, to 20,000 at the end of 2020. 

The state Department of Corrections at the time said that drop was primarily due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, which halted trials for a time.

"A major part of the decrease in population can be attributed to a slower-moving court system during the pandemic," DOC spokesman John Beard said in an email at the time.

Beard also noted the department itself – and therefore the administration – is limited in its ability to immediately reduce the population, since only a few programs allow inmates to be set free before their scheduled release date. According to a DOC "Persons in Our Care" report, as of April 1, 2022, the state adult prison population was at 19,878, down scarcely a notch from the 20,000 reported at the end of 2020.

In 2021, we rated his promise In the Works

But there has been virtually no movement since then. From the start, Evers noted this was a long-term goal – not one to be completed in a single term. 

We are moving this rating to Stalled.

See Figure 1 on

Our Sources

PolitiFact Wisconsin Evers-O-Meter

PolitiFact Wisconsin Evers-O-Meter, March 26, 2019.

Governor's Task Force on Broadband Access, 2021

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel "Wisconsin awards $125M in rural internet service grants. Which communities will receive higher speeds?" June 24, 2022

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel "Inmates say they will stop eating to persuade Tony Evers 'to make good' on campaign pledge to reduce solitary confinement," March 27, 2019.

PolitiFact Wisconsin Evers-O-Meter, April 18, 2019.

PolitiFact Wisconsin Evers-O-Meter, March 9, 2021.

Budget in Brief, Feb. 2021

PolitiFact Wisconsin Evers-O-Meter, Jan. 19, 2021

Budget in Brief, 2021-23

Gov. Tony Evers, Executive Orders

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel "As Congress passes new gun controls, what to know about Wisconsin's laws on concealed carry, age limits and more," June 30, 2022 "Republican Party of Wisconsin Resolutions 2022"

PolitiFact Wisconsin Evers-O-Meter, March 9, 2021.

Justia Regulations "Wisconsin Administrative Code Department of Corrections Chapter DOC 308 - Administrative Confinement Section DOC 308.04 - Administrative confinement," March 28, 2022

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel "Wisconsin Democrats call for stricter gun laws, GOP candidate Nicholson seeks more armed security after Texas school shootings," May 22, 2022


Milwaukee Journal Sentinel   """"""" "Nearly everyone supports universal background checks for gun buyers. Here's why Wisconsin is unlikely to make it law," Aug. 7, 2019

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