Early release becomes political football in governor's raceThe possible early release of a man who killed two police officers has become a political football in the governor's race.
By: Gil Halsted, Wisconsin Public Radio, Superior Telegram
The possible early release of a man who killed two police officers has become a political football in the governor's race. But, the Department of Corrections (DOC) is also weighing in to set the record straight.
Ben Sanders is serving two consecutive life terms for the murders of two Milwaukee police officers in 1973. Sanders has a parole hearing coming up soon, the latest in many he has had a legal right to because he was not sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.
At a news conference, Republican gubernatorial candidate and Milwaukee County Executive Scott Walker joined the president of the Milwaukee Police Association in calling on the DOC to deny Sanders request for early release. Walker said Sander's case highlights what's wrong with the state's new early release program.
But Sanders isn't eligible for early release. He is eligible for parole. DOC spokesman Ishmael Ozanne says it appears that fact was forgotten or misunderstood when both Scott Walker and Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, sent letters to the DOC demanding that Sanders not be released. He says it wasn’t clear whether both candidates understood what they were talking about, “or they understood and were just trying to confuse the issue.”
DOC Secretary Rick Raemisch has issued a statement making it clear that Sanders was never eligible for early release and that it's very unlikely he would be granted parole because the current head of the parole board is a former Milwaukee police officer.