Mandela Barnes ‘Absolutely’ Wants to Cut Wisconsin’s Inmate Population in Half

MADISON, WI - JULY 23: Lt. Gov. of Wisconsin and democratic candidate for US senate, Mandela Barnes, speaks to supporters at a rally outside of the Wisconsin State Capital building on Saturday July 23, 2022. (Photo by Sara Stathas for the Washington Post)
Sara Stathas for the Washington Post

Wisconsin Senate Democrat candidate Mandela Barnes “absolutely” wanted to release half of Wisconsin’s inmate population, a video unearthed by the Republican National Committee reveals.

When asked in 2018 while campaigning for Wisconsin Lt. Governor if he thought the inmate population could be cut in half, Barnes replied, “Absolutely! That’s something that happens over time.”

“That’s not something that happens overnight,” he complained. “If you stop sending people back to prison, we can reduce our recidivism rate if we drop the way, you know, sentence nonviolent offenders. Over time, the prison population will be half of what it is.”

During his time as Lt. Governor, Barnes has allowed at least 884 convicted criminals back onto the streets by releasing them on parole, according to Wisconsin Right Now. The massive number of convicted criminals reportedly includes 270 murderers and attempted murderers, as well as at least 44 child rapists.

Barnes, who was a community organizer before becoming lieutenant governor of Wisconsin, is one of the most radical Democrats running for office in 2022, though he reportedly does not call himself a “progressive” Democrat anymore to “appear less polarizing” in his race against Johnson.

But Barnes has pushed for defunding “over-bloated” police departments and allowing felons to retain the right to vote. He also believes police do not prevent crimes.

Moreover, Barnes believes in abolishing Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), permitting driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants, and giving in-state college tuition to illegal immigrants. He has derided small business owners as “selfish” for wanting to serve customers during the pandemic. Barnes also favors an entirely government-run healthcare system, eliminating the Senate filibuster, packing the Supreme Court, and passing the Green New Deal, which would destroy the American economy to reshape it into a socialist utopia.

To shore up his radical crime positions among voters, he tried to roll out only two active cop endorsements last week. Both endorsements were revoked in the days before Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) announced a bipartisan majority of 51 Wisconsin sheriff endorsements.

Johnson “brings a common-sense approach to all the craziness in DC and represents Wisconsin the way it should be. I am glad to support Sen. Ron Johnson,” Florence County Sheriff Dan Miller said.

A Tuesday poll found Johnson is surging in the polls past radical Barnes by four points. Just weeks ago, Barnes was leading Johnson by a moderate margin. But Barnes’ radical record seems to be working against him.

 Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø. He is the author of Politics of Slave Morality.

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