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Wisconsin has more than twice as many in prison as Minnesota

In 2008, Wisconsin had more than 23,000 people in state prisons, compared to fewer than 9,000 in Minnesota, the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance reported last week.

Wisconsin's annual spending on prisons ($1.1 billion in 2008) also was more than twice as much as Minnesota's ($460 million).

According to the Taxpayers Alliance, corrections is now Wisconsin's third-largest general fund program (8.8% of general purpose revenue spending), behind only the University of Wisconsin System (8.9%) and school aids (38.6%).

The Taxpayers Alliance says the spending difference between Wisconsin and Minnesota grew considerably as Wisconsin began adding more prisoners and paroled fewer of them than Minnesota did in the 1990s.

The Wisconsin Legislature approved an early release program for up to 3,000 Wisconsin prisoners in last year's state budget that is expected to save $30 million over two years.

Assembly Republican Scott Suder of Abbotsford is calling for program's repeal, saying it is a "dangerous social experiment."