By: Brett Blomme, JD
My name is Brett Blomme. I am a candidate for Milwaukee County Circuit Court Branch 5 in the spring, 2020 election. I have over 15 years of experience in litigation, philanthropy, community organizing and nonprofit management. I’m running for Milwaukee County Circuit Court because Milwaukee deserves leaders who represent the diverse values of our community. I’m running for Milwaukee County Circuit Court because nothing in our broken justice system will change unless we change who we elect as judges.
My professional background has been dedicated to working with those in our community who have been left behind and marginalized. After Law School I served as an attorney with the Wisconsin State Public Defender’s office. I practiced across the State of Wisconsin. I saw first-hand the effects that trauma has on the criminal justice system. I saw the horrifying intersection between mental health, substance abuse and criminal behavior. I saw how easy it is for judges to be scared of my clients. I now have the honor and privilege of being a leader in Milwaukee’s LGBTQ+ community as President & CEO of Cream City Foundation. I get to work for equity and justice on a daily basis for some of our most marginalized communities.
One of the main themes of my campaign is to tackle the mass incarceration crisis we are facing in our state. We have a moral obligation to tackle this crisis head on. According to a report from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) our state government spent over $1 billion of its general fund in 2017 on corrections. This represents a 302 percent increase in spending from 1985 to 2017. This increase is taking money away from programs and organizations that have a successful track record of eliminating some of the factors that lead to criminal behavior.
The State of Minnesota, which has similar demographics, population and racial make-up as Wisconsin incarcerates just over 8,000 people. Here in Wisconsin, we incarcerate over 23,000 people. This mass incarceration crisis not only has devastating economic consequences as outlined above, but there are untold effects that often go overlooked. How do we even begin to measure the devastating effects that removing our brothers, fathers, aunts and grandmothers from our community have on our young people.
As judge, I am committed to adopting the ACLU’s SMART Justice platform. This is a set of initiatives that is working to reduce the state’s prison population by 50 percent by 2024. This platform lays out a number of legislative, police, public defender and prosecutorial reforms. It also identifies ways judges can take the lead on reducing mass incarceration, most notably through bail bond and sentencing reforms.
Regarding bail bond reform, I commit to use cash bail only when absolutely necessary. When I was a public defender, I had countless clients who would plead guilty entirely based on an agreement that if he did so, he would be released from custody. This happens too often and is simply wrong. Regarding sentencing reform, I commit take into account the horrifying effects of trauma has in our community when making sentencing decisions. I will seriously consider each and every alternative to incarceration when possible. I will be a judge that bases sentencing decisions on facts and not on fear.
You have a choice this election. You can choose more of the same, or you can choose me. I have spent my entire professional career fighting for equity and justice for some of our communities most marginalized families. I am ready to stand with you as your next Circuit Court Judge. Better Judge = Better Justice.