The Wisconsin State Journal endorsed Jill Karofsky in her bid to become Branch 12 District Court Judge. The editorial board included this language in its endorsement.
“Karofsky will have a shorter learning curve in the job. And her experience provides more insight into how to improve court operations. For example, [she] cites bias in bail-setting hearings as a key contributor to racial disparities in Dane County courts. She also speaks with authority on the need for a special court to handle cases involving people with mental illness.” Click here to read the endorsement.
Karofsky is running against Marilyn Townsend. Both candidates met with the editorial board of the WSJ and replied to questions submitted by the Dane County League of Women Voters. In her response to the League’s questions, Karofsky again mentioned her support for mental health law courts. Here is her reply to a question about the disproportionate rate of incarceration of minorities.
“Judges should support, encourage and help develop alternatives to incarceration such as treatment alternative and diversion programs and specialty courts. These alternatives not only reduce incarceration rates but they have proven to reduce recidivism by addressing alcohol and other drug addiction and mental illness. In addition, at-risk youth in our community must be linked to positive connections and mentors. Judges can be some of those positive role models. Judges must also be a part of the community and take leadership roles in bringing about collaboration among attorneys, residents, advocates, service providers, clergy, and nonprofits.”
Here is Townsend’s response to the same question
“Incarceration of minorities is in part the result of sentencing by Judges but also the result of laws and policies that will require changes by the Legislature. While I know that a Judge must apply the existing law to the facts of each case, to the extent I may have discretion in sentencing, and alternatives to incarceration are available, I would seek to avoid or limit incarceration when an alternative is appropriate. In addition, I believe judges who deal with these cases, and understand the problem, could help by drawing attention to the circumstances that call for legislative changes.”
NOTE: Karofsky again supported establishment of a mental health law court in a WSJ article on March 26. No mention of support from Townsend in the article.