By Eelisa Jones
Dane County District Attorney, Ismael Ozanne, sat down with the Courier earlier this week to discuss his background and motivations as a candidate for Wisconsin State Attorney General in our 2014 Attorney General Primary.
Mr. Ozanne has entered the race for attorney general alongside Susan Happ, Jefferson County D.A., and Representative John Richards.
The election will take place on Tuesday August, 12th, 2014.
Ozanne summarized his advantages over the other attorney general candidates with two concepts: “leadership and experience.”
Both of these concepts reflect not only his individual accomplishments within Wisconsin’s criminal justice system, but also a pattern of civil and social activism embedded within three generations of Ozanne’s family history.
He, his mother (Gwen Gillon), and his grandfather (Robert Ozanne), have dedicated their combined efforts in reform movements to achieve a safe and just society throughout 20th and 21st centuries. Richard Ozanne created two labor unions, published three books, and established an esteemed UW-Madison professorship in 1947.
He directed the Madison’s School for Workers program from 1952 to 1980.
Gwen Gillon became the youngest member of a Deep South chapter of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1963 and instilled within her son a deeper sense of social justice.
District Attorney Ozanne has spent over a decade as a front-line prosecutor, including 7 years as a domestic violence prosecutor.
He initially entered the Dane County District Attorney’s office in 1998 as assistant D.A. In 2008, Ozanne left the D.A. office to assist in supervising the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.
Ozanne says that his responsibilities while working for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections allowed him an in-depth look into the day-to-day operations of Wisconsin’s criminal justice bureaucracy.
For two years, Ozanne had the opportunity to run a $1.2 billion dollar organization with over 10,000 employees in 40 facilities statewide.
In 2010, he left the DOC and entered the office of Dane County District Attorney.
As Dane County D.A., Ozanne interacts with the criminal justice system on numerous levels.
Last year, the state of Wisconsin was home to an estimated 160 murders, 1.2 thousand cases of forcible rape, 4.8 thousand cases of robbery, and 9.2 thousand aggravated assaults.
According to an unofficial report from the Wisconsin Statistical Analysis Center, the numbers of murders and aggravated assaults have declined by roughly 1 percent, while both robbery and rape statistics increased by .3 and .1 percent respectively compared to 2012.
While struggling to maintain public safety from repeat offenders and addressing the root causes of crime, Wisconsin’s government has become deeply involved with pressing environmental legislation.
This is just a sample of the current challenges to Wisconsin law-makers, enforcers, and our future state attorney general.
District Attorney Ozanne says that he views these kinds of statistics from a perspective of hope.
“My field has taught me to not waste a crisis [because] it is only an opportunity,” says Dane D.A. Ozanne.
“We need to always look to make a difference. We can keep moving forward.”
State attorneys general act as chief legal advisers for state legislature and state agencies.
The state attorney general is often referred to as “the People’s Lawyer,” as it is the guiding authority on all state laws that affect its citizens.
The National Association of Attorneys General website lists issuing formal opinions to state agencies, representing the public’s interest in charitable trust, and operating victim compensation programs as three of nearly a dozen responsibilities of a state attorney general.
District Attorney Ozanne seeks to advocate effective criminal rehabilitation state-wide.
Ozanne says that focused house and work assistance an essential way to aid criminal offenders in living a lawful life.
This method – or “focused deterrence” as Ozanne terms it – directly addressed the daily challenges that many offenders may face housing and providing for themselves.
He stresses the importance of providing offenders the training, documentation, and guidance necessary to secure homes and reliable incomes.
“I wouldn’t say that poverty is a source of crime, but it is a stressor,” explains Mr. Ozanne.
In his interview with the Milwaukee Courier, Ozanne stated that many of the individuals who commit today’s violent crimes have pre-existing offenses.
He says that this kind of information is a starting point for addressing crime rates throughout Wisconsin.
In addition to criminal rehabilitation, Ozanne seeks marriage equality, Act 28 sentencing reforms, and reinforcement of the Environmental Unit of the Wisconsin Departure.
You can find out more information about Ismael Ozanne and his 2014 campaign at http://www.iozanne.com.