Criminal Justice Reform Conference April 26, 2018

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About the Conference

How could state policymakers revise the criminal justice system so that it is more cost-efficient and liberty-enhancing without damaging the safety of the community? This is the broad question that the Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership sought to answer with a multi-day conference on criminal justice reform. This free two-day long conference of policymakers and academics from both the left and the right focused on three broad topics that promise to engender bipartisan support and helpful discussions:

1. How could state policymakers reform prisoner re-entry so that prisoners returning to the workforce have the skills they need to obtain and maintain employment in jobs that are under-filled?
2. How could state policymakers reform prosecutorial discretion in a manner that it is fair to defendants but also affords prosecutors the powers they legitimately need to enforce the law and obtain revenue?
3. How could state policymakers reform civil forfeiture in a manner that is consistent with the Constitution and protects individual property rights?

The State of Wisconsin Board of Examiners approved 9.5 CLE credits for the event.

The conference began at 9:00 AM on Thursday, April 26 and ended at lunch time on Friday, April 27. It was held at the beautiful Monona Terrace.  Grover Norquist provided the keynote address during lunch. Norquist has worked in recent years to reform the criminal justice system across the states.

The Thompson Center would like to thank the National Federalist Society, the Madison Chapter of the Federalist Society, the National American Constitution Society, the Madison Lawyer Chapter, and the Milwaukee Lawyer Chapter of the American Constitution Society for their support for this conference.

Special Thanks to Wisconsin Eye - conference recordings

The Thompson Center would like to extend our most gracious thank you to our partner The Wisconsin Eye, which streamed and recorded this event.  The conference described here and many other intellectually stimulating events can be found on their website:


Our mission is to provide unfettered access to the actions of our state government and to the full range of forums, activities, and participants throughout our state that constitute community and public life in Wisconsin; To provide access to the public policy debate and decision-making process without editing, commentary, or analysis and with a balanced presentation of points of view; To provide elected and appointed officials and others who would influence public policy a direct conduit to the audience without filtering, or otherwise distorting their points of view; To employ production values, and to conduct all aspects of our operations, consistent with these principles.

Keynote  :  Grover Norquist

Panel 1  Prisoner Reentry

Panel 2  Prisoner Reentry Pt. 2

Panel 3  Prosecutorial Discretion

Panel 4  Prosecutorial Discretion Pt. 2

Panel 5  Civil Forfeiture

Panel 6  Fines and Fees


Criminal Justice Reform Conference Schedule

Schedule April 26:

8:30-9:00. Registration and check-in: Monona Terrace Center

9:00-9:15. Welcome and Opening Remarks:
Governor Tommy G. Thompson
Thompson Center Director Ryan Owens

9:15-10:30. Panel 1: Prisoner Re-entry:

Professor Jennifer Doleaec (University of Virginia)
Jon Ponder (HOPE for Prisoners)
Professor Lahny Silva (Indiana Law)
Moderator: Professor Michael Massoglia

10:30-10:45. Break

10:45-12:00. Panel 2: Prisoner Re-entry:

Heather Rice-Minus (Prison Fellowship)
David Safavian (American Conservative Union)
Robert L. Woodson, Sr. (Woodson Center)
Professor Michael Massoglia

12:00-1:30. Lunch and Keynote Address.

1:45-3:15. Panel 3: Prosecutorial Discretion:

Todd Graves (Graves Gerrett LLC)
Steve Hurley (Hurley Burish & Stanton)
Professor Renée Hutchins (UM Carey Law)
Professor Brian Johnson (University of Maryland)

3:15-3:30. Break

3:30-5:00. Panel 4: Prosecutorial Discretion:

Paul Connell (WI Atty General office)
Professor Michael Light (UW-Madison)
Professor John Pfaff (Fordham University)
Caroline Sarnoff (Measures for Justice)
Paige Styler (Wisconsin State Public Defender’s Office)
Moderator: Professor Cecelia M. Klingele

5:00-5:10. Concluding Remarks

April 27:

9:00-10:15. Panel 5: Civil Forfeiture:

Dr. Dick Carpenter (Institute for Justice)
Derek Cohn (Texas Public Policy Foundation)
Tom Lyons (Right on Crime)
Jason Snead (Heritage Foundation)
Moderator: UW-Madison Senior Rachel Zierden

10:15-10:30. Break

10:30-12:00. Panel 6: Fines and Fees:

Dean A. Mazzone (MA Atty General Office)
John Richter (King and Spalding)
Professor Ebony Ruhland (Cincinnati Law)
Professor Sandra Guerra Thompson (Houston Law)
Moderator: UW-Madison Senior Rachel Zierden