Recent heat spikes are making life harder for those incarcerated and working in the state's prisons, as the four inmate testimonials below show.
They have been edited for length and clarity and to protect the writers' identities.
Hey, starting a movement of free speech against cells being too hot in heat advisories. I call it "#I can't breathe cause our cell is too hot."
A lot of inmates are super mad and pissed off because our cell are hot boxes with no air flow or breeze coming through. Inmates crack their doors because it's the only way to get a breeze in your room or air flow.
Some guards are very caring and will let this happen, but others will enforce the closed door policy because their hand was forced and say if doors aren't closed, turning cells into hot boxes, you will get a ticket.
I feel very bad for the elderly and people with health problems. They are the ones that suffer the most. Inmates have had heat exhaustion and I'm sure heat stroke here. The ambulance comes here a lot.
Inmates have complained and were told nothing will be done about it. As some staff sit back and enjoy air-conditioning in their offices, inmates suffer from heat exhaustion in their rooms. I see a HUGE lawsuit coming when someone falls out. Inmates and staff are both sick of nothing being done.
There's not good air flow on the units, either. One person told me today that the warden here said its too expensive to fix the problem to bring air flow to the cells. So now inmates suffer in their cells.
Who's responsible if someone falls out in their cell from the heat because nothing was done? It's like leaving someone in a locked car to fry – it's just not right. I'm just sitting in my cell writing a letter doing nothing. I get soaked in sweat just sitting there. I hope this goes to the media, Madison, higher ups, news stations.
This is inhumane and torture punishment. Ask everyone to share their stories about being hot boxed in their cell and what they did to get change.
"It's like leaving someone in a locked car to fry – it's just not right."
We have to wear sweatpants for 7½ hrs a day. All of the previous week (July 7 to July 10) has been horrendous.
At 7 a.m. the outside temp would be 67°F; however, once in the building the temp on thermometer stated 90°F. There are box fans and a couple industrial (36" fans) none of which really do anything unless you are directly in front of them. Most of the working spaces you would sweat just standing still. On top of this we are required to wear a fabric mask for the entire 7½hrs. These masks do not breathe well. They offer us ice and water to keep cool; however, in that kind of heat it lasts maybe 10 minutes.
We do get three breaks a day; two 10 minute and one 15 minutes. I myself have developed a sweat rash that covered 80% of my back from the chair I sit in. We have asked for the ability to wear shorts during these times. In response we were told that wearing shorts is unprofessional for a work place. This has become a common excuse throughout the last 14 years that I have been locked up; we must wear out shirts tucked in to look professional at all times.
Mostly every day, there is a 'Heat Advisory' in effect which shuts down most movement such as work, recreation, track (any exercise/cardio) and courtyard activities. I can't believe that we are locked into our rooms, especially when there is a legitimate heat index.
We have separate day room times for the upper and lower tiers. Recreation also. When it is not our time out we are locked into our cells. This is quarantine procedure. The heat is oppressive and air does not get into the cell and circulate.
The emergency call buttons are rarely answered, which creates a severe security risk. They take on average close to 11-13 minutes roughly if at all. There are many older people on the unit and they are at risk of heat stroke, fatal heart attacks and seizures.
My cellmate is hypoglycemic and needs to go to HSU (health services unit) four times a day. Rarely does he get out of the cell on time. Therefore he has been denied essential medical care. There are hundreds of cases like this and they need to be brought into the light. The cell doors do not need to be double locked. We should be able to push the release button and exit if we so choose. This is a medium security facility. These actions are not necessary.
(Department of Corrections) Secretary Kevin Carr needs to be made aware of these indiscretions. (Division of Adult Institutions Administrator) Makda Fessahaye doesn't seem to be too concerned with these actions either. I am hoping that by me speaking out that this will start a conversation of the utmost importance. Peoples' LIVES are literally and figuratively at stake and hang in the balance.
I wanted to make the community aware of the living conditions here. We are only allowed cell cleaning once a week on Saturdays and for only 10 minutes per cell and we get timed or get a conduct report.
The cleaning supplies they have consist of generic windex and watered-down disinfectant cleaner and one mop bucket, which each cell uses and water doesn't get changed, nor does the mop head. Very unsanitary.
It is extremely hot in the unit – no air-conditioning, no fans on the tiers, no circulation at all and when the sun is beaming through the window we get conduct reports if we cover the windows up to stop the burning of the sun.
They also only allow us to have three small 8-oz cups a day for ice water. They won't open doors or traps to get some air. A couple inmates on my unit has had some seizures due to how hot it is. This is inhuman to make us suffer like this.
Another note – when it's very hot outside they won't let us use the gym. We have outside rec which is ridiculously hot and humid but they allow the barracks to use gym everyday for multiple hours because they are minimum custody which is bullshit they shouldn't even be allowed on the same grounds as us max inmates.
The crazy part Is (some areas of the prison) have air-conditioning so we don't understand why we can't get some type of air flow. They waiting to several people to die, I guess.
By Gretchen Schuldt
The state prison population increased last week for the second week in a row, reversing the downward trend that began when the coronavirus outbreak prompted the Department of Corrections in March to stop accepting newly sentenced inmates from county jails.
DOC started accepting new inmates again June 1 and continues to do so, despite a statewide surge in coronavirus cases.
The number of incarcerated adults rose from 21,360 on July 10 – the low point in the state prison population this year – to 21,368 on July 17 and 21,390 on Friday.
The female prison population has been on the rise since June 26, when it hit a coronavirus-era low of 1,339. It rose in each subsequent week. The male population of incarcerated adults did not increase until until last week.
The overall prison population remains 9% lower than it was on March 6, early in the pandemic, when it stood at 23,485. On Friday, the population was 21,390.
The Wisconsin Justice Initiative is launching a "Laws and Legislation" page on its website to keep readers up-to-date with the goings-on in Madison and Washington.
With the State Legislature in recess, we're starting with a look back at laws adopted during the 2019-20 state legislative session – for those working for progressive justice reform, it's pretty depressing reading. More felonies and longer prison sentences were the rule.
We'll also link to news and readings from other sources and, when the Legislature returns in January, we will cover new legislation as it grinds through the process.
We hope you find this page and the information on it useful.
Updated July 23, 2020
By Gretchen Schuldt
State prosecutors will not retry a man who spent 12 years behind bars before a federal judge found police so badly violated his constitutional rights that he should be freed or given a new trial.
Ladarius Marshall, 16 when he was arrested and now 28, was released from the Green Bay Correctional Institution on Friday, according to the Department of Corrections website.
“The state’s choice not to prosecute Mr. Marshall is an extraordinary result," said Matthew Pinix, his lawyer. "I am glad to see this long road finally end for Mr. Marshall. He’ll soon walk out of prison a free man. But that result did not happen soon enough. Mr. Marshall has been fighting for his freedom for almost half his life."
Marshall, because his release was so abrupt and complete (no community supervision), likely will not be eligible for assistance from the Department of Corrections that other incarcerated people returning to the community might get, Pinix said. Nor is he likely eligible for the $25,000 maximum compensation the state provides to those wrongfully convicted.
"I am tremendously happy with the State’s choice to put an end to its prosecution," Pinix said. "Now Mr. Marshall deserves to somehow be compensated for the last twelve years of his life.”
U.S. District Judge William Griesbach in April ruled that police detectives' persistent questioning of Marshall even after he said he did not want to talk violated his rights. Marshall, who had cognitive deficiencies, was held by police in interrogation rooms from about 7:30 a.m. to about 10:30 p.m.
"Absent greater maturity and a much stronger educational background than Marshall had, it is difficult to imagine how he could have more clearly conveyed to the detectives that he did not want to talk to them...." Griesbach wrote. See WJI's previous story on the ruling here.
Marshall eventually told police he was present when Lavare Gould was fatally shot on June 16, 2008, but denied being the shooter.
Marshall pleaded guilty to second-degree reckless homicide with the use of a dangerous weapon, and possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under the age of 18. He was sentenced in May, 2010, to 20 years in prison and 10 years of extended supervision.
Marshall's trial lawyer, now-Circuit-Judge Jean Kies, argued that Marshall's statements should be suppressed, but lost. Marshall appealed his case twice, but the Court of Appeals ruled against him both times and the State Supreme Court twice declined to intervene, according to online court records.
"Seven Wisconsin judges denied him relief without fully analyzing the facts of how the police obtained his statement," Pinix said. "Justice had to wait for more than a decade until a federal judge actually read the transcripts and saw that police officers illegally refused to honor Mr. Marshall’s rights. "
By granting the writ of habeas corpus, Griesbach found that state court decisions in the case were “contrary to, or involved an unreasonable application of, clearly established Federal law."
The Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office, in a Circuit Court document seeking dismissal of the case, said the State Department of Justice and the DA's office jointly decided not to retry Marshall.
"Based upon a review of the facts developed during the investigation of the homicide of Lavare
Gould, the State has decided not to retry Ladarius Marshall for this homicide," Assistant District Attorney Paul Tiffin wrote.
"Walker's judges" is our effort to present information about former Gov. Walker's appointees to the bench who are still serving as judges. The information is taken from the appointees' own judgeship applications. We also are posting "Evers' judges."
Racine County Circuit Judge Jon Fredrickson was in the news recently when he overturned Racine's coronavirus rules. During the litigation over the matter, Fredrickson said Racine’s public health administrator, Dottie-Kay Bowersox, was indulging in "despotic power."
The State Court of Appeals, however, granted the city an emergency stay that keeps the city's coronavirus rules in place pending a full appeal of the case, which could take months.
Name: Jon E. Fredrickson
Appointed to: Racine County Circuit Court
Appointment date: Sept. 28, 2018, elected in April 2019.
Law School – Marquette University Law School
Undergraduate – University of Southern California
High School – Homestead High School, Mequon
2001-present – Kravit Hovel & Krawczyk
1997-2001 – Crivello Carlson
State Bar of Wisconsin
Eastern District of Wisconsin
Western District of Wisconsin
Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals None
Legal experience as an advocate in criminal litigation, civil litigation, administrative proceedings:
My practice focuses on representing Wisconsin businesses, individuals, and Fortune 500 companies in high-exposure business, insurance coverage, and professional liability cases. Over the years, I have litigated cases touching upon many aspects of Wisconsin law. As an attorney's attorney, I have defended over twenty-five legal malpractice claims....
Number of cases tried to verdict or judgment: 2; non-jury, NA; arbitration, NA; administrative bodies, NA.
Cases on appeal: 7
Three most significant cases:
Land O'Lakes, Inc. v. Ratajczak – I was lead counsel. Researched, drafted, litigated, and argued the case. This case was significant because of the stakes involved for my clients, the Ratajczaks. Land O'Lakes sued them individually, as the former owners of a feed business, under fraud and federal and state racketeering theories. Land O'Lakes sought roughly $10 million dollars in compensatory damages, trebled under the racketeering statutes to $30 million. My clients had everything they owned at stake in this litigation. It was either win, or complete financial ruin, which is exactly how Land O'Lakes positioned it. I analyzed the racketeering laws, and determined that if I could get Land O'Lakes to admit it hadn't lost any profits, or passed on any damage to a third-party, that we could win the case on summary judgment. One of my partners and an associate stridently objected to my legal analysis and passionately argued that my legal analysis was incorrect, and that I was wrong. I wasn't. I filed the summary judgment motion, and won the argument at both the federal district court, and Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals level. The win was a completely life-altering event for my clients.
Marks v. Houston Cas. Co. – I was lead counsel. Researched, drafted, litigated, and argued the case. This case was significant because it sought to expand insurance protections for Wisconsin businesses and individuals to coincide with the protections available in many other states. It was tactically positioned to force the Supreme Court of Wisconsin to finally deal with three Court of Appeals decisions that were binding precedent on the Court of Appeals and the circuit courts, but that were being sporadically ignored by both, depending on the district panel or circuit court judge involved. While it wasn't a victory for my clients, it did serve to clean up Wisconsin's duty to defend law, and has become a widely cited insurance precedent.
Murray v. Travelers Ins. Co. – I completed this work while I was a law clerk, before graduation. My appellate briefing in this case was signed by the partner in charge of the case without any edits or changes. The case was significant on two fronts. As an aspiring young lawyer, it gave me the self-affirmation that I was ready for the big fights. But more importantly, it was a significant decision for Wisconsin workers, as it expanded the scope their employment protections.
All previous runs for office: None
Involvement in judicial, non-partisan, or partisan political campaign, committee, or organization: None
All judicial or non-partisan candidates endorsed in the last six years:
Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge Paul Rifelj
WJI is taking a look at justice-related bills adopted during the 2019-20 session.
Act 162 makes felonies out of various ways of having or watching or recording human sexual contact with other types of animals. Prohibited conduct includes, according to the Legislative Council:
The penalties vary, depending on the act, whether it was a first offense, and whether the animal was injured. The least serious maximum penalty is up to six years in prison and a $10,000 fine; the most serious is up to 25 years in prison and a $100,000 fine.
The new law also requires the offender to register as a sex offender. The sentencing court must also prohibit the offender from working with or owning animals for five to 15 years after release from incarceration.
The law was introduced as Senate Bill 139. Its companion bill was Assembly Bill 152. The lead authors of SB 139 were State Senators Andre Jacque (R-DePere) and Fred Risser (D-Madison). The lead sponsors of AB 152 were State Representatives Chuck Wichgers (R-Muskego) and Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls).
Gov. Tony Evers signed the bill into law on March 3.
No fiscal estimates were filed.
Jacque – As with other forms of animal abuse, bestiality overlaps significantly with violence perpetrated against humans, including domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse. A study of 44,000 adult sex offenders found that prior sexual abuse of animals is the number one behavioral predictor for sexual abuse of a child, and individuals who sexually abuse animals are very frequently violent, predatory sex offenders who share many common traits with pedophiles. A number of websites have been used frequently to facilitate animal sexual abuse, which is why the PAW Act makes it illegal to advertise, offer, sell, transfer or purchase an animal with the intent for it to be used for sexual contact, or to photograph or film a person engaged in sexual contact with an animal, or to possess or distribute such materials....
Wisconsin Federated Humane Societies – As compassionate humane beings, we would like to think that animal sex abuse occurs rarely in our society. Unfortunately, this crime is on the rise as animal sexual abusers easily network on the internet and through social media....
Registering for the bill: Badger State Sheriffs' Association, The Humane Society of the United States, League of Humane Voters-Wisconsin, Wisconsin Companion Animal Network, Wisconsin Federated Humane Societies., Wisconsin Puppy Mill Project, Wisconsin Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs Association, Wisconsin State Horse Council, Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association
Registering against the bill: No one
By Gretchen Schuldt
Last week's heat wave added more miserable conditions to the carried by incarcerated people already struggling with limitations and hardships attributable to the coronavirus pandemic.
It hasn't been an air-conditioned holiday for staff, either.
The inmate testimonials below have been edited for length and clarity and to protect the writers' identities.
Intel on temperature...day rooms bottom tier 86.9°…. It is cruel and unusual punishment to both the staff and the inmates of the prisons having a sustained temperature so high, not to mention a extreme health hazard to already susceptible-healthed inmates.
Last few years we have had visitors collapse with heat shock in visitation! I have diabetes and heart and kidney diseases, and diabetics are not supposed to sweat profusely for extended periods due to how it crushes a person’s chemistry! Elderly are even more vulnerable with age- related issues that make them weaker to extreme temperatures! The environment is gunna continue to heat up for years to come. I have 8 months till my release and I ain’t trying to die here!
Now combine all this COVID shutdown and close quarters is making the situation more dangerous for staff and inmates. We get told people don’t have air conditioning at home, (but) homes ain’t made out of heat-conducting materials like steel and concrete in completely open spaces to absorb solar radiation all day, making it a furnace! This is a very serious issue that people need to know!
With the weather being so hot & humid, our ice machines run out quickly. This is partly due to self-centered selfish inmates filling pitchers and large bowls of ice. This is also partly because the ice machines are not designed for this many people. So once the machine runs out, within 20 minutes of being opened back up, we are supposed to get a bucket of ice. However, we are limited to 2 buckets per shift. Again, pitchers and large bowls are filled, leaving the older men and handicapped men with nothing. One of these men just had a heat stroke last night.
There are times staff refuse to even get the buckets out of the freezer in the servery. Its bad enough our rooms turn into sweat boxes and we can’t even prop the door open for just a little breeze, we can’t partly cover our windows to block out the blazing sun. With being under “modified movement” still we are still stuck in these death boxes for 21+ hours a day with no relief. A small fan blowing nothing but hot air does not help keep you cool. We have AT LEAST another week of this weather and August isn’t even here yet. Because of how hot it is guys are having issues sleeping. This heat and lack of sleep is also causing short tempers. Arguments are daily, I’ll guarantee you the fights will break out soon also. Extra ice, propping doors slightly open, opening the dayrooms and yards, these things will help quell the issues. When are we going back to a medium prison and away from the max?
Boy it's been hot!
And you’ve got all kinds of COs working doubles in this heat. Guess what? Makes some of them cranky. So any little bit gets exacerbated because they are hot and tired. Now they weaponize ice. Not putting it out. Or not unlocking the ice/water machine. Why? The COs don’t even have to touch it. Inmates do all the work. When the ice/water machine gets locked up it only takes 25 minutes to fill up. Use the buckets of ice then. Now let’s talk about the doors. Most of the time we crack them open a boot width (like from big toe to pinky toe). But sometimes you get a CO who is a hater and makes us keep them closed. And there response is “a white shirt told me to.” Which is more likely than not a lie. Further more in the past I’ve been told by white shirts we can keep them cracked a boot width. There is zero air with the door closed. It is absolutely miserable in the cells with out the door cracked. Try sleeping in your shed at night when it’s hot. Be sure to keep the door shut!
Here is a question: what can I do with the door cracked that I can’t do with the door shut? Nothing! This is just a way to be cruel. Especially if your cell faces west. Good God those suckers are hot! If its 90° outside (not mentioning 70 dew point) those cells are 120°. If anybody doesn’t believe me they can check any cell facing west on the front yard with a temperature gauge! I suppose we could get this fixed by working out in our cell until we fall out. Then we can say its too f---in' hot in the cells! Or one of the old guys will die. Oh yea...they get moved to HSU for the air conditioning. What a petty way to breed hate and discord in the prison!
Turn on the AC! Is it October yet?
I wanted to pass along some info about the COVID lockdown....It started on May 26th and was apparently caused by the PT that sees inmates here. She was here and met with two inmates on 5/22 and on the 26th those two inmates and there cellies were sent to Dodge for quarantine. Warden...put out a memo on the 26th instructing that all inmates wear masks when out of our rooms and that staff is supposed to wear them at all times when around inmates. Several staff members, including the superintendent...and both captains have been walking around and talking with staff and inmates without a mask.
I had a convo with (a captain) on Thursday the 28th. He was about two feet away and was not wearing a mask. When I made a comment regarding it, one of the sergeants that was standing nearby got in my face and screamed at me and actually dropped the line that we're all in this together.
The National Guard was here today testing all staff, including the staff and inmates. The superintendent was walking around without a mask. Today is also the first day in four days that we had a hot meal. Its been sandwiches and a salad since Wednesday night. Breakfast is cereal and white bread with pb&j and a juice.
On Friday, the superintendent led a tour around the facility and no one was wearing a mask. I don't believe these were DOC people because I never saw an ID, so I'm not sure who they were. We are not being allowed any type of rec or phone calls. People without tablets have not been permitted to use the kiosk to let their loved ones know what's happening....
I want to put an ICE in about staff not wearing masks and the lack of ability for proper hygiene as far as clean clothes. However, the captains and the superintendent like to threaten and intimidate anyone who makes any kind of complaint.
WJI is taking a look at justice-related bills adopted during the 2019-20 session.
2019 Act 161 created a law that specifically criminalized money laundering. Previously, offenses that would be treated as money laundering under federal law were charged under state law as crimes of theft or receiving stolen property.
The new law prohibits knowingly getting proceeds that the receiver knows are derived from unlawful activity or conducting a transaction involving proceeds that are derived from unlawful activity. (Yes, buying a drink with money your buddy won in the office pool is a crime if you knew that money came from illegal gambling!)
The new law also prohibits involvement in or financing of moving or transferring proceeds while knowing that the proceeds were derived from illegal activity; making available funds while aware that they will be used for committing or aiding illegal activity; and conducting a transaction involving proceeds received through an illegal activity and knowing that the transaction is designed to avoid a reporting requirement under federal law or to conceal the ownership, control, location, or source of the illicit proceeds.
The law creates several levels of penalties, depending value of the proceeds involved.
If the value is $2,500 or less, the crime is punishable by up to nine months in jail and a $10,000 fine.
For greater values, the maximum penalties are:
The law was introduced as Senate Bill 368. Its companion bill was Assembly Bill 350. The lead authors of SB 767 were State Senators Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) and Dan Feyen (R-Fond du Lac). The lead sponsors of AB 350 were State Representatives Rob Hutton (R-Brookfield) and Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls).
Gov. Tony Evers signed the bill into law on March 4.
No fiscal estimates were filed.
Hutton – Everyone knows someone who has been a victim of fraud, and yet law enforcement and prosecutors have not had the appropriate tools to stop it. While federal laws prohibit money laundering, there is no money laundering statue in Wisconsin. Practically, this means that unless a criminal engages in over $200,000 worth of financial crimes, there is little Wisconsin law enforcement can do to prosecute these crimes.
Registering for the bill: Wisconsin Bankers Association
Registering against the bill: No organization or individual registered against the bill.
Registering "other" position on the bill: NAIOP Wisconsin (Commercial Real Estate Development Association), Wisconsin Realtors Association.
Updated Sept. 2 and Aug. 24, 2020
Sept. 2 – The special session of the Legislature Monday called by Gov. Tony Evers lasted less than a minute, as Republicans refused to consider any police reform proposals.
Aug. 24 – Gov. Tony Evers is calling a special session of the Legislature to consider police reform bills he introduced last month.
He did not call a session when he introduced the bills because he was afraid Republican legislators, who hold majorities in both the Assembly and Senate, would immediately adjourn. The Legislature is scheduled to convene again in January.
Evers changed his mind after Kenosha police shot Jacob Blake in the back on Sunday in front of his three sons. Evers called the special session for Aug. 31; Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Racine) said he is forming a task force instead.
Below are the Legislative Reference Bureau's summaries of the Evers bills.
Bill 1: This bill requires each law enforcement agency to ensure that its publicly available policy on the use of force incorporates the following principles:
Bill 2: This bill requires each law enforcement officer to annually complete at least eight hours of training on use-of-force options and techniques a law enforcement officer may use to de-escalate a potentially unstable situation.
Bill 3: This bill creates a $1,000,000 grant program, administered by the Department of Justice, to fund community organizations that are utilizing evidence-based outreach and violence interruption strategies to mediate conflicts, prevent retaliation and other potentially violent situations, and connect individuals to community supports.
Bill 4: Current law requires law enforcement agencies to develop policies on the use of force by law enforcement officers in the performance of their duties. This bill requires these policies to prohibit the use of choke holds by law enforcement officers.
Bill 5: Current law requires each law enforcement agency to prepare a policy regarding the use of force by its law enforcement officers and to make the policy available for public scrutiny. This bill requires the law enforcement agency to post its policy on the law enforcement agency website or, if the agency does not have one, on a site maintained by the municipality over which the law enforcement agency has jurisdiction.
Bill 6: This bill creates a civil cause of action for unnecessarily summoning a law enforcement officer. Under the bill, a cause of action may be brought against a person who, with the intent to do any of the following, causes a law enforcement officer to arrive at a location to contact the person: infringe upon a right of the person under the Wisconsin Constitution or the U.S. Constitution; unlawfully discriminate against the person; cause the person to feel harassed, humiliated, or embarrassed; cause the person to be expelled from a place in which the person is lawfully located; damage the person's reputation or standing within the community; or damage the person's financial, economic, consumer, or business prospects or interests. Under the bill, a plaintiff may recover the greater of special and general damages, including damages for emotional distress, or an amount equal to $250 from each defendant found liable; punitive damages; and costs, including all reasonable attorney fees and other costs of the investigation and litigation that were reasonably incurred.
Bill 7: Current law requires the Department of Justice to collect certain information concerning criminal offenses committed in Wisconsin. This bill requires DOJ to collect data and publish an annual report on law enforcement use of force incidents, including incidents where there was a shooting, where a firearm was discharged in the direction of a person (even if there was no injury), and where other serious bodily harm resulted from the incident. The bill requires certain demographic information to be collected about each such incident, and reported annually by DOJ on its Internet site.
Bill 8: Under current law, a law enforcement officer executing a search warrant must knock and announce before entering unless, at the time the warrant is executed, the law enforcement officer has a reasonable suspicion that knocking and announcing will be dangerous or futile or will inhibit the effective investigation of the crime. This bill requires that a law enforcement officer executing a search warrant must, before entering the premises, identify himself or herself as a law enforcement officer and announce the authority and purpose of the entry.
Bill 9: This bill makes certain changes to the responsibilities of the Law Enforcement Standards Board. Under current law, the Law Enforcement Standards Board regulates the training of law enforcement officers. This bill requires the Law Enforcement Standards Board to also regulate jail and juvenile detention officer training standards, and to regulate recruitment standards for the recruiting of new law enforcement, jail, and juvenile detention officers. The bill also requires each law enforcement agency to maintain an employment file for each employee. Under the bill, when a law enforcement agency, jail, or juvenile detention facility is recruiting for new officers, the agency, jail, or facility must require each candidate that is or has been employed by a different agency, jail, or facility to authorize that employer to disclose his or her employment files to the recruiting agency, jail, or facility and to release that employer from any liability related to the use and disclosure of the files.
A state appeals court this week upheld 15-day suspensions without pay for two Milwaukee police officers who confronted, swore at, and manhandled a man who was walking in the street.
The District I Court of Appeals panel rejected the officers' claim that the suspensions ordered by the Fire and Police Commission amounted to "employment double jeopardy."
Officers Brian Young and Bradley Johnson failed, the panel said in an unsigned opinion, "to provide Wisconsin authority of any kind establishing the existence of, and certainly not the specifics of, 'employment double jeopardy.'”
The ruling by Appeals Judges Brian W. Blanchard, Timothy G. Dugan, and M. Joseph Donald upheld a lower court decision by Milwaukee County Circuit Judge William Sosnay.
Young and Johnson were in uniform, patrolling a violent crime area in April 2016 when they saw a man identified as J.B. in the street on W. Concordia Ave. J.B. was about seven feet from the curb. By the time the officers drove up to him, J.B. was about two feet from the curb.
One of the officers told J.B. to "come here" and "step forward," according to the decision. J.B. responded with "don't touch me" and "for what?"
"Approximately 11 seconds after the officers opened their car doors to make contact with J.B., they placed their hands on him and tried to push his hands behind his back," the decision said. "However, J.B. kept his arms stiff as the officers continued to try to pin his arms behind his back. An officer asked if J.B. had 'weed' (marijuana) or a gun, and J.B. denied possession of either."
Young had a hand on J.B.'s shoulder. Johnson pointed a Taser at J.B. and yelled "Get on your knees now or I'm to tase your ass" and "Get down, get down on your f---ing knees."
The officers told J.B. to sit on the curb, but he refused. J.B. said he had done nothing wrong; one of the officers, according to Fire and Police Commission findings, said that J.B's "offense is standing in the roadway."
An officer told J.B. to sit on the curb and threatened to tase him if he did not comply. Young and Johnson struggled with J.B., trying to take him down, but were unsuccessful.
Johnson pointed the Taser at J.B. and yelled "Get on the f---ing ground." The two again attempted to bring J.B. down and this time were successful. The officers handcuffed J.B. about two minutes and 18 seconds after they got out of the car.
Then-Police Chief Edward Flynn determined that Young and Johnson violated the department's citizen contact protocol, which requires that officers, as much as safety conditions allow, introduce themselves to citizens with whom they make contact. The officers are to give their name, rank or title, their Police Department affiliation, and the reason for the contact or stop. The officers also had violated the Police Department's code of conduct and a requirement that officers be familiar with and abide by department policies, procedures, and training.
The Fire and Police Commission imposed the suspensions, and the officers appealed to Circuit Court, where Sosnay ruled against them.
Their double jeopardy argument on appeal stemmed from their getting counseled by a supervisor soon after the incident. The Fire and Police Commission found that counseling was not discipline, the appeals panel said, adding that "the scant legal authority offered by the officers raises more questions than it does answers."
The appeals court also rejected the officers' contention that the commission lost jurisdiction over the case because it took longer than 10 days to issue a written decision, as its own rules call for. That rule is not mandatory, the panel said.
The panel also found that the commission based its decision on the violations that Flynn alleged and rejected the officers' argument the department rules and standards they were accused of violating were "extremely vague and overbroad."
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