By Margo Kirchner
Voters who approved an amendment to the state constitution that killed a safeguard for fair trials in criminal cases were not adequately informed by the amendment's wording what voting “yes” on the referendum would actually do, the Wisconsin Justice Initiative and others argue in seeking to have the amendment invalidated.
The “Marsy’s Law” amendment eliminates a defendant’s right to have an alleged victim kept out of the courtroom if that is necessary to ensure a fair trial. Marsy’s Law allows the alleged victim to attend all proceedings, even if that clearly jeopardizes the possibility of a fair trial.
WJI and fellow plaintiffs WJI Board President Craig Johnson, WJI Treasurer Jacqueline Boynton, attorney Jerome Buting, and State Sen. Fred Risser (D-Madison) recently filed their motion and supporting brief to strike the new amendment from the state constitution. The plaintiffs contend that the ballot question was defective, voiding the referendum's outcome.
The plaintiffs are asking Dane County Circuit Judge Frank Remington to invalidate the measure, approved by voters in April.
“WJI made the point … in our filing that the question voters confronted on the ballot in April didn’t give them a clue as to the far-ranging and potentially devastating effects that Marsy’s Law will have on our criminal justice system,” WJI’s Johnson said.
The amendment is "deceptively sweeping," Attorney Dennis Grzezinski, representing the plaintiffs, said in a brief.
The ballot question asked simply whether a section of the constitution already setting forth victims’ rights should “be amended to give crime victims additional rights, to require that the rights of crime victims be protected with equal force to the protections afforded the accused while leaving the federal constitutional rights of the accused intact, and to allow crime victims to enforce their rights in court.”
The plaintiffs argue in their brief that the question violated the constitution and Wisconsin Supreme Court precedent in at least three ways.
First, they say, the question failed to fully and fairly inform voters of every essential element of the amendment.
Pointing to long-standing case law, the plaintiffs argue that the Supreme Court allows the Legislature discretion in formulating a ballot question, but that discretion has limits. The court has said a ballot question must “reasonably, intelligently, and fairly comprise or have reference to every essential of the amendment” so the public “may be fully informed on the subject” on which they are voting.
Grzezinksi argues that not all the essentials of the Marsy’s Law amendment — which runs more than twice the length of the U.S. Bill of Rights — were included in the ballot question. Among other things, say the plaintiffs, the amendment also
WJI is taking a look at justice-related bills adopted during the 2019-20 session.
2019 Act 112 increases the penalty for intimidating a witness when the witness is a victim of domestic abuse. Intimidating a witness, except when there are aggravating circumstances, is a misdemeanor carrying a maximum penalty of nine months in jail and a $10,000 fine. The bill makes intimidating a domestic violence victim punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
The law was introduced as Assembly Bill 804. Its companion bill was SenateBill 767.
The lead authors of AB 804 were State Representatives Daniel Knodl (R-Germantown) and Joe Sanfelippo (R-New Berlin). The lead sponsors of SB 767 were State Senators Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and Andre Jacques (R-DePere).
The measure passed the Assembly on a 67-32 vote, generally along party lines. Four Democrats joined all Republicans in voting for the measure. The four were Steve Doyle (D-Onalaska), Beth Meyers (D-Bayfield), Nick Milroy (D-South Range), and Robyn Vining (D-Wauwatosa). The Senate also approved the measure with only Senators Mark Miller (D-Monona) and Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) opposing it.
Gov. Tony Evers signed it into law on Feb. 28,2020.
No fiscal estimates were filed.
Knodl and Darling - Prosecutors and law enforcement have highlighted the growing problem of witness intimidation in Wisconsin. Milwaukee, in particular, has been hard hit, with a recent Journal-Sentinel investigation identifying that 23% of charged homicide cases were impacted by documented instances of witnesses failing to appear in court to testify. Despite Milwaukee being a national leader in proactive actions to prevent witness intimidation, it remains a problem in the city and throughout the state. Increasing protections for crime victims and witnesses is important, particularly in cases of domestic abuse. We should be making it harder for criminals to continue terrorizing our communities, not easier. This legislation moves us in the right direction.
State Public Defender’s Office - As with most penalty enhancers or mandatory minimum sentences, evidence does not demonstrate that they serve as an effective deterrent.
The bill is unlike other laws that increase the penalty for witness intimidation because it is based on the underlying crime, not the degree or type of intimidation involved, SPD said.
This could present the hypothetical scenario that intimidation of a witness in a domestic abuse crime is treated more severely that intimidation of a witness in a homicide even if the type of intimidation employed is similar.
End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin – The intent of this legislation is laudable, and we appreciate and share lawmakers' goal of supporting survivors. However, End Abuse opposes the idea that increased sentencing is the solution to ending domestic violence. Criminalization has been the primary response to domestic abuse in the U.S. for 30 years, and the results are disappointing. The failure of the criminal legal system to seriously decrease neither incidence nor the severity of intimate partner violence highlights the limits of a one-dimensional approach to a multi-dimensional problem. Increasing penalties will do very little to protect survivors of violence....
Imagine the impact this legislation would have on a victim, assumed to be an abuser, entering the criminal legal system. Requiring that victim intimidation in domestic violence cases is charged as a felony, rather than looking at incidents on a case by case basis, removes judicial discretion and the exploration of other remedies or appropriate charges.
Intimate partner violence (IPV) has overlapping economic, community, public health, and human rights facets. Viewing intimate partner violence through each of these frames opens new avenues for addressing the problem. IPV will continue unabated if policymakers continue to focus on punishment and fail to focus on economic inequality and instability. The evidence is clear that IPV is more prevalent and more severe in the context of economic distress. Poor people, particularly poor women, are more vulnerable to IPV and few policy dollars are allocated to programs that would directly reduce that risk.
Victims and advocates talk frequently about lack of access to legal aid, underfunding of county victim witness units, chronically overworked and underpaid DAs and public defenders, restrictions on access to Medicaid and other lifesaving benefits, sparse or nonexistent affordable housing in their area, and an insufficient focus on interpersonal violence in our education system. These are just a handful of resources that can, when made accessible and adequately funded, make a difference. Individuals who receive assistance in securing material resources are significantly less likely to experience psychological and physical abuse after leaving shelter and report greater improvements in their quality of life. Therefore, economic policy may have more potential to seriously decrease IPV than other policy interventions.
Let us not forget that incarceration is expensive. We're talking about spending a considerable amount of taxpayer dollars, over 10 years, to house an individual who has intimidated a victim. Imagine if we provided supportive housing for that victim instead. What would it look like if we used those funds to provide survivors with the support they need to live a life free from violence? What if we listened to their voices? Survivors across the state are not telling us that we need to be tougher in sentencing. They're telling us that they need affordable housing and childcare. They're telling us that their partners need help. They're telling us that incarceration is not justice.
Registering for the bill: Badger State Sheriff's Association, Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association Inc., Wisconsin Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs Association.
Registering against the bill: City of Milwaukee, End Domestic Violence: the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Wisconsin District Attorneys Association, Wisconsin Justice Initiative Inc.
Act 132 made swatting a felony. Swatting is reporting false information to law enforcement that is intended to spur, or could actually spur, a response from a specialized tactical team.
Previously, some false emergency reports were misdemeanors or punishable by fines, though making a bomb threat and or threatening to release a harmful substance were felonies.
Under the new law, swatting by itself is now punishable by up to 3 ½ years in prison and a $10,000 fine. If swatting results in bodily harm, the maximum penalty is up to six years in prison and a $10,000 fine. If the swatting results in great bodily harm, the offender is subject to upto 15 years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
The law was introduced as Assembly Bill 454. Its companion bill was Senate Bill 363.
The lead authors of AB 454 were Tyler Vorpagel (R-Plymouth) and Cindi Duchow (R-Town of Delafield). The lead sponsors of SB 363 were Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay) and Van Wanggaard (R-Racine).
The bill passed without opposition. Gov. Tony Evers signed it into law on March 3.
No fiscal estimates were filed.
Duchow – What began as a prank has since proven to create incredibly dangerous and even deadly situations. Some may recall in late December 2017 when a man in California falsely reported a hostage situation at a home in Wichita, Kansas that resulted in the death of an innocent father who had no idea why police had surrounded his home.
Wisconsin is not immune to this as dozens of swatting incidents have been reported within the last few years in communities all across the state including Hartland, Waupaca, Madison, Sun Prairie, Fond du Lac, Appleton, Janesville, Greenfield, and Marinette County. Each of these instances wasted an incredible amount of resources and put innocent lives at risk as law enforcement officers, emergency personnel, and even full SWAT teams were mobilized to a location where no threat existed.
Cowles – A good example of how swatting can harm a community occurred just last year in Dodge County. The Dodge County 911 Center received a call from a man who said he shot a man and taken others hostage in a house in the Highway 151 and Forest Road area between Beaver Dam and Columbus. The SWAT team arrived on the scene and began to enter the residence with the intent to free the hostages. Other police responding shut down the highway for over an hour. The SWAT team entered the residence and immediately discovered no hostage situation existed and deemed it as a swatting call as defined in the bill. As the investigation was wrapping up, Dodge County received a call for an ice rescue on Fox Lake. Sheriff Dale Schmidt told reporters, "Had our deputies still been tied up on the swatting call, it is quite possible our deputies would not have been able to respond as quickly to that incident, and lives could have been put further in jeopardy."
Other more recent swatting events have happened in Wisconsin as well. In April of this year, Hartland Police responded to a call from a man who claimed he had just killed his mother and was going to hurt himself. The address the SW AT team was sent to was a house across the street from Hartland Elementary South. The school was put on lockdown and the SW AT team surrounded the residence with riot shields and heavy weaponry until the resident emerged at which point the police determined no emergency existed. Another incident occurred in July of this year, when the Dane County 911 center got a call from someone claiming to be the mother of a woman who had a gun and was threatening suicide in the bathroom of her condominium. Police swarmed and evacuated the condominium, eventually entering the residence and found nobody to be present.
Registering for the bill: Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association, Wisconsin EMS Association, and Wisconsin Professional Police Association.
Registering against the bill: League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Inc., with the comment, LWVWI supports a primary reliance on alternatives to incarceration.
By Gretchen Schuldt
The decline in the state's population slowed markedly in the past two weeks as the state started accepting new inmates from counties, a practice it suspended March 23 in an effort to block the importation of the coronavirus into state prisons, according to state figures.
The state started accepting inmates again on June 1.
Because of the crowded conditions in prisons, they are considered prime sites for COVID-19 spread.
The Wisconsin prison population declined by just 66 inmates during the week ending June 5 and 106 during the week ending Friday, according to the Department of Corrections. The last time the prison population decline was anywhere near that small was during the week ending March 27, when it dropped by 109 people.
The overall prison population fell from 23,256 on March 6, the week before Gov. Tony Evers declared a coronavirus-related state of emergency, to 21,548 Friday, a decline of 7%.
David Liners, state director of WISDOM, a justice organization, said Evers is not doing enough to reduce the risk to incarcerated people.
"The governor once claimed he wanted to cut the prison population in half," Liners said. "At the moment when it is most urgent to use the powers unique to his office, he has failed by refusing to act."
WISDOM is organizing a "Drive to Decarcerate" caravan to Madison on Thursday. People interested in participating can learn more and sign up here.
Evers "has received warnings from the public health community," Liners said in a prepared statement. "He has gotten assurances that his power to commute sentences cannot be overturned by the legislature. He knows that there are many, many people in our prisons who are a very low risk to public safety, but who are at great risk of serious illness or death if they remain in overcrowded prisons. He knows that the virus has already begun to sweep through some of the prisons, among both incarcerated people and staff. Still, he has chosen to do nothing, and not to even address the issue."
Not included in those figures are the number of people incarcerated for reasons related to alleged violations of community supervision. There were 338 of those people locked up as of Friday. That is up 23 from the low of 315 in the weeks ending May 15 and May 22.
By Gretchen Schuldt
Lying to a judge about having ovarian cancer is enough to warrant losing a court battle over parental rights, a State Court of Appeals judge ruled this week.
"All the evidence demonstrates that S.S. conducted an intentional, continuous campaign to perpetrate a fraud upon the court, manipulate the parties in this case, lie to her legal counsel, and create fraudulent medical records.," District II Court of Appeals Judge Paul F. Reilly wrote.
The ruling upheld Waukesha County Circuit Judge Lloyd Carter's decision to enter a default judgment against S.S., as she was referred to in court records.
S.S.'s child, A.W. was removed from her mother in 2016, after S.S. overdosed in her daughter's presence. She overdosed again in January 2017, illegally obtained narcotics in the summer of 2017, and was incarcerated for about three months that winter due to a heroin relapse while she was on probation.
Waukesha County filed a termination of parental rights petition in April 2018, alleging that S.S. had failed to assume parental responsibility and that A.W. still was in need of protection. S.S. contested the petition.
In June 2019, S.S.'s lawyer filed a motion to adjourn a scheduled jury trial on the petition.
The petition said that S.S. was "'experiencing some extreme physical distress'” and explained that S.S. was suffering “''increased pain, bleeding to a point that required frequent changes of sanitary products to avoid bleeding through clothing, exhaustion and an inability to function which have led to missing multiple appointments to prepare for trial,'” Reilly wrote.
During a hearing on the matter, S.S. provided written documentation stating that she had ovarian cancer. The letter, purportedly from an emergency room nurse, said that S.S. was to be excused for four to six weeks due to the disease and related surgery. Carter granted the delay.
In July, the social worker assigned to the case filed a memo stating that S.S. refused to sign a release allowing her condition to be verified. S.S. said during a court hearing that she had privacy concerns and was protected by federal law.
Carter found the court had an interest in confirming the truthfulness of her representations and ordered her to sign the release.
Staff at Waukesha Memorial Hospital "denied writing the medical excuse that S.S. presented to the court, denied diagnosing S.S. with ovarian cancer, and indicated that they had no record of S.S. being diagnosed or treated for ovarian cancer at their clinic," Reilly wrote.
S.S.'s lawyer later expressed concern that her client was "making use of me to defraud the court," Reilly said.
S.S. never denied the allegations that she faked the medical records and lied about it.
The county Department of Health and Human Services sought a default judgment and a finding that there were grounds to terminate S.S.'s parental rights.
Carter granted the request. S.S.'s "conduct is the epitome of bad faith and egregious conduct…." he said. "What (S.S.) did here was a calculated, planned effort on her part to make a false representation to her attorney knowing that her attorney would communicate that information to the Court, then follow it through with further fabrication and falsification."
The court later found, at a separate hearing, that it was in A.W.'s best interests to terminate S.S.'s parental rights.
S.S. appealed, arguing that the law does not give the court the right to terminate her parental rights because Carter did not specifically find that she violated a court order.
"As the circuit court acknowledged, S.S. presented no evidence in the record to suggest that perhaps a misunderstanding occurred....." Reilly wrote. "The purpose of S.S.’s actions appears to be to manipulate the court’s calendar and avoid the jury trial on the grounds phase of the TPR proceeding."
The actions of S.S. were "egregious and constitute bad faith....Under the circumstances and given the court’s inherent authority to sanction parties for litigation misconduct, we see no error, he said.
WJI is taking a look at justice-related bills adopted during the 2019-20 session.
2019 Act 111 makes possession of any unauthorized item - even if it is otherwise legal - by a person incarcerated in a jail or prison a felony punishable by up to 3 ½ years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
The law was introduced as Senate Bill 70. Its companion bill was Assembly Bill 63.
The lead authors of SB 70 were State Senators Andre Jacque (R-DePere) and Howard L. Marklein (R-Spring Green). The lead sponsors of AB 63 were State Representatives Ron Tusler (R-Harrison) and James Edming (R-Glen Flora).
Gov. Tony Evers signed it into law on Feb. 28,2020.
No fiscal estimates were filed.
Jacque – Inmates sometimes attempt to conceal contraband in an attempt to sneak it into the facility while being booked into jail. Depending on the contraband it may or may not be a crime. Illegal drugs or an item snuck in and given to another person currently constitutes a crime, and the person can be charged. However, if the person tries to sneak something in that is not illegal to possess and keeps it for themselves at the time they are caught with it, it cannot be prosecuted beyond a rules violation, whether that item might be a phone that could facilitate other crimes, something that can be fashioned into a weapon or contain flammable liquid, or even a handcuff key, which is not illegal to possess and not a crime. These items are serious problems in a correctional setting. The idea for Senate Bill 70 came from corrections and law enforcement officers in Northeast Wisconsin, including those here to testify today.
Tusler – Unfortunately, §302.095 leaves the proverbial jailhouse door open to smuggle in items that are not already illegal to possess, for example a handcuff key, pen, or paperclip, for personal use; this loophole is being exploited and must be closed to ensure the safety of our law enforcement and corrections personnel and other inmates. While these legally-possessable items are usually found and confiscated during booking as contrary to jail or prison policy, there is no consequence for attempting to outsmart facility personnel.
Registering for the bill: AFSCME International Union, Badger State Sheriff’s Association, Washington County, Wisconsin Counties Association, Wisconsin County Police Association, Wisconsin Sheriff’s and Deputy Sheriffs Association
Registering against the bill: No one
Registering as “other”: No one
sBy Gretchen Schuldt
The Milwaukee Police Department's use-of-force policy does not prohibit the chokeholds or the kind of restraint that Minneapolis police used when they killed George Floyd, records show.
Milwaukee has adopted just three of eight restriction on use of force recommended by Campaign Zero, an effort to reduce killings by police, according to the campaign.
Fire and Police Commission Executive Director Griselda Aldrete, responding to recent protests in Milwaukee, told the Common Council's Public Safety and Health Committee last week that the commission will review the policy.
Milwaukee's use-of-force policy also keeps secret the some of the weapons that the Police Department can use against protesters and others. The policy does not disclose why the public should not know what can of weapons can be turned against it.
The policy says the secret weapons are not lethal, but that cannot be verified without knowing what they are. Tear gas and rubber bullets also have been described as nonlethal, but they can kill or maim.
Campaign Zero has identified eight restrictions associated with fewer killings by police. Of those, eight, Milwaukee has adopted three – establishing a continuum of force, requiring a warning before shooting, and imposing on officers a duty to intervene if they see an excessive use of force by a colleague.
The campaign also says the city does not require that all other alternatives be exhausted before officers are authorized to shoot, but the Fire and Police Commission last year approved language that says that use of force that may result in serious injury or death "may only be used as a last resort."
The other recommended restrictions the city has not adopted, according to the campaign, include:
While the city's policy does require reporting of many types of uses of force, it does not require reporting when an officer points a gun at someone without firing, according to the campaign.
The campaign reported in 2016 that each of the eight recommended killings were associated with fewer police-involved killings.
The policies linked to the largest drops in police-involved deaths were required comprehensive reporting (25% reduction), the requirment that officers to exhaust all other reasonable means before shooting (25% reduction), and that ban on chokeholds and strangleholds (22% reduction).
"While each individual policy predicted lower rates of police-involved killings, the fewest killings per population were observed among police departments that had several of these policies in place," the study said. "For example, departments with four or more of restrictive use of force policies in place had 37% fewer police-involved killings per population than those that had 0 or 1 of these policies in place."
By Margo Kirchner
Trial courts must issue specific factual findings on why a person is a danger to self or others before extending an involuntary commitment, the Wisconsin Supreme Court recently held.
Moreover, said the court, general concerns regarding a person’s mental state, inability to maintain employment, and inability to care for oneself are not sufficient for a finding of dangerousness. Justice Ann Walsh Bradley authored the court’s opinion in Langlade County v. D.J.W.
Chief Justice Patience Drake Roggensack dissented, saying she would have recommitted D.J.W. on grounds that Langlade County never even raised in Circuit Court or on appeal. Justice Rebecca Grassl Bradley also dissented, on different grounds.
In January 2017, a circuit court in Langlade County found D.J.W. mentally ill, dangerous, and in need of treatment. The court committed D.J.W. to custody for six months and ordered involuntary treatment and medication. In June 2017, Langlade County petitioned to recommit D.J.W. for a year.
The Circuit Court appointed Dr. John Coates to examine D.J.W. in connection with possible recommitment. Though Coates wrote a report following the examination, at the July 2017 recommitment hearing the County presented only Coates’ oral testimony. The report was not admitted as evidence.
Coates testified at the hearing that D.J.W. had schizophrenia, a history of hallucinations over three years, and an illogical thought process with “grandiose illusions.” Coates said D.J.W. reported seeing the devil and hearing voices in the months prior to the hearing and that D.J.W.’s illness was treatable with psychotropic medication.
When asked whether D.J.W. was a danger to himself or others, Coates opined that if D.J.W. were to end treatment he would likely exacerbate his illness and experience hallucinations. But, said Coates, “the greater risk is just his inability to properly care for himself and to properly socialize if he goes untreated.”
Coates noted that D.J.W. had been living with his parents, quit his job because he thought he was the Messiah, and obtained disability benefits. To the doctor, these facts suggested that D.J.W. could not independently care for himself and would be homeless if his parents did not provide shelter. Coates thought D.J.W.’s judgment was still impaired.
Coates testified that he did not know if D.J.W. was suicidal or homicidal. But, he said, acutely psychotic individuals’ actions are unpredictable and for D.J.W. suicidal and homicidal ideations were possible.
Coates reiterated that the “major danger” to D.J.W. was that if he stopped medications he would be delusional and hallucinating and unable to interact appropriately with others. Coates continued: “So the major danger is to himself. I don’t think he’s necessarily a violent man that’s going to go out and harm others.”
On cross-examination, when pressed about how D.J.W. quitting his job showed dangerousness, Coates responded that D.J.W. lost his employment and could not provide for his basic needs, had been found disabled, and would be homeless without his parents’ help.
WJI is taking a look at justice-related bills adopted during the 2019-20 session.
2019 Act 106 – This act increases incarceration time for fifth or sixth offense drunk driving from six months to 18 months. The new law, however, allows a judge to impose a shorter sentence if the judge finds that a shorter sentence is in the interests of the community and that the community will not be harmed. The judge must also state on the record the reasons for those findings.
The law was introduced as Senate Bill 6. The companion bill was Assembly Bill 16.
The lead authors of SB 6 were Senators Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and Kathleen Bernier (R-Chippewa Falls).
The lead co-sponsors were State Representatives Jim Ott (R-Mequon) and Cody Horlacher (R-Mukwonago).
The bill was approved in the Assembly by an 88-10 roll call vote. Voting against it were Representatives Jill Billings (D-LaCrosse), Jonathan Brostoff (D-Milwaukee), Dave Considine (D-Baraboo), David Crowley (D-Milwaukee), Jodi Emerson (D-Eau Claire), Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee), Beth Meyers (D-Bayfield), Greta Neubauer (D-Racine), Daniel Riemer (D-Milwaukee) and Mark Spreitzer (D-Beloit).
State Rep. Travis Tranel (R-Cuba City) either did not vote or was not present.
The Senate approved the bill without a roll call.
Gov. Evers signed the new law Feb. 28, 2020.
Department of Corrections – $13,608,100 annually.
On average, in the years 2016-2018, 438 people convicted of fifth- or sixth-offense drunk driving were placed on probation, though it is not known how many were ordered to serve jail time as a condition of their sentences. Another 343 were sentenced to prison, for an average of 20 months each.
The department's calculation assumes that all 438 people placed on probation would instead be sentenced to 18 months in prison, and the 343 sentenced to prison would be sentenced to 18 months.
The estimate takes into account the 8% annual decline in conviction rates for those crimes the state experienced from 2013 to 2017.
The annual cost estimate includes funding for new substance abuse programming and contracted jail beds, which the department anticipates using because state prisons are crowded beyond capacity.
The estimate does not include any estimates for community supervision costs related to the bill.
Courts – Undetermined.
District Attorneys – Undetermined. In 2017, there were 404 convictions for OWI fifth offense and 177 convictions for OWI sixth offense.
Responsive district attorneys generally cited the belief that any increase in mandatory minimums in proposed legislation decreases the District Attorneys ability to resolve cases with plea agreements, reduces the Judge's discretion at sentencing and increases the likelihood that the defendant will contest his/her guilt at trial or via a pre-trial motion. Motion practice and jury trials consume significantly more prosecutorial resources and time than resolving matters via plea agreement. The number of additional cases that would be calendared for litigation rather than plea as a result of this legislation is unknown. Responsive district attorneys further note that this change would also affect the ability to utilize treatment courts for fifth- and sixth-offense offenders which have borne fruit in reducing drunk driving recidivism.
Department of Justice – An additional assistant attorney general likely would be needed to handle increased appeals.
Department of Transportation – None.
State Public Defender's Office – May be a slight cost increase because of additional trials.
Darling – It is my hope Senate Bill 6 will deter individuals from getting behind the wheel intoxicated by increasing the mandatory minimum to 18 months in prison. With the expansion of treatment and diversion programs and other alternatives, it is my hope that Senate Bill 6 will never have to be used.
Ott – Those who chronically commit OWI are a menace on the roads, and a stiffer mandatory minimum would send a strong message that we will not tolerate this behavior, and keep chronic offenders off the road for a longer period of time.
Registering for the bill: AAA Wisconsin, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association.
Registering against the bill: No one.
Registering as "other" position: Tavern League of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Professional Police Association.
By Gretchen Schuldt
Updated June 3 to correct the "Contract bed" chart.
Prison populations, which have declined since March when the Department of Corrections stopped accepting new inmates from counties in response to the coronavirus pandemic, should start trending up again this week as DOC slowly starts re-opening cells to newcomers.
The agency said it would start accepting new inmates starting June 1.
The overall adult prison population has dropped 6% since from Feb. 28, just prior to the start of the pandemic, according to DOC figures. That drop can be largely attributed to a decline in admissions, not to an increase in releases.
Meanwhile, the number of coronavirus cases reported in state prisons continues to increase, as DOC introduces, belatedly, wider testing. There were 213 people incarcerated at Waupun Correctional Institution who tested positive, a 92 percent positive rate, according to DOC figures. Other positive tests were were recorded at Columbia Correctional Institution (2), Felmers O. Chaney Correctional Center (18), Marshall E. Sherrer Correctional Center (5), Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (1), and Oshkosh Correctional Institution (8). Thus far, DOC has conducted 4,770 tests at its adult institutions, for a testing rate of about 22%. The results of 1,981 tests are pending.
Incarcerated people continue to express apprehension and anger about the virus and their treatment in prison. Inmate testimonials are below. They have been edited for length and clarity and to protect the writers' identities
I put in a hsu (Health Services Unit) form saying I wasn't feeling good and I was woke up the next morning at 1 a.m. and they gave me a mask and brought me and my celly to hsu where I was given a flu test which was negative then they gave me the coronavirus test and told me we were being put on quarantine until the results came back....They said we were being the first people going to segregation on quarantine because the hsu unit was full so they said they cleared a wing out in set for us.
So me and my celly were forced to walk ourselves to the hole at 3 a.m. then when I got there they made me strip search and wear restraints just like a seg inmate. I tried to refuse telling them if they are not subject to do this over on the hsu unit then we shouldn't have to do it either and I told them that putting on them restraints against my will when I did nothing wrong gives me flashbacks ...I told them I wasn't trying to go through that again.
I told them...I need to talk to a psychologist and a white shirt I was told I would see both but the whole time I was in seg I saw neither. I was told if I didn't put the restraints on I would receive a major ticket so I had no choice....I was treated worse than a seg inmate. A few hours after I was there the Sgt came to my door and told me...I had to wear seg oranges and I had to give him my keep-on-person meds which was the only property I had. So I tried to refuse until I was again threatened with a major ticket. I gave up my meds and my greens....I was told we would eventually get our property like the guys on the hsu unit get it they even get there electronics but they did the opposite and took what little property I had. I couldn't even get a book!
(The man said he developed a migraine.)
My migraine got so painful I was throwing up in the toilet crying tears and begging god to just let me die because I couldn't handle the pain and I was pressing my emergency button and the Sgt wouldn't answer it. Later I asked him why he didn't answer it and his only response was there's a epidemic. I had a migraine the whole time I was there until I finally got my meds. I was denied my meds all the way from Saturday until Tuesday night at 8:30 p.m. I was told I would be released as soon as my test results came back. They came back Monday morning and we still were not released until Wednesday! I didn't get a shower the whole time until Wednesday. I wasn't given none of my property.... I wasn't allowed any contact with family or friends, no phone calls no paper or envelopes to write. I was completely denied psych devices.
I just got off quarantine because I had a court deadline and went to the library and may have be in contact with an officer who may have COVID-19. I sat for 14 days and they let me return to my old cell. Now it's like 4 guys may got it. They have symptoms of COVID-19. This what scares me. All the individuals who got COVID-19 are housed in the same building as the people who don't. We are in rooms that have holes in the door. We share the same vents. We are not safe.
So as of last night at least one inmate has tested positive and has been taken to isolation, also 26 inmates in association with that positive test have been put in quarantine. They also implemented a new policy that all staff and inmates must wear masks..This is laughable if you had been here to see all the poor examples of "social distancing" that have been taking place up till now. You literally could have shot a public service announcement video here showcasing these guards showing you exactly what not to do!! In the bathhouse in a approximately 6'x20' walkway there were 11 officers hanging out shoulder to shoulder..no masks..like I said laughable...but now that one of us is infected everyone should wear masks? Never mind the underlying question of "How did he get infected?" It wasn't one of us that infected him. If they had implemented a policy of masks for staff 2 months ago when this started or even a month ago perhaps we wouldn't be where we're at right now..It was kinda funny right after they made the announcement that everyone needs to be wearing a mask ALL of the staff were able to immediately miraculously produce masks, many of the custom ones so they obviously had them ready on standby...there seems to be a certain level of negligence at play here on the part of those making the decisions...."
Help WJI advocate for justice in Wisconsin