Later, convicted killer Ruben Herrera tells BeBeau what her story meant to him.

"I hear you talking about forgiveness. That would be something I would ask for, but it would be selfish," he said in a voice racked with emotion. "I don't have any right to ask for forgiveness or to forgive myself. I don't even know how to go about doing that."

As judges follow the state Legislature's mandate of truth in sentencing, giving prisoners little hope for early release, a movement to help criminals change their thinking -- and their behavior -- is under way. BeBeau is one of its foot soldiers. Another is former state Supreme Court Justice Janine Geske. Another is Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney David Lerman. Their cohorts fan out across the state, a counterpoint to the proponents of truth in sentencing who believe that longer prison and supervision terms are the answers to the crime problem.

"There are two different philosophies at work," Dane County Circuit Judge Angela Bartell said. "Do people need to be treated, monitored, and considered human resources, or just locked up?"

Department of Corrections Secretary Matthew J. Frank said the two aren't necessarily mutually exclusive.

"Truth in sentencing is not inconsistent with giving judges more options. . . . The challenge here is to be smart on crime and that we give options to our judges to hold people accountable in ways that best protect the public safety," he said.

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