WJI is taking a look at justice-related bills adopted during the 2019-20 session.
2019 Act 97 – This act makes battery to a nurse or to a person working under the supervision of a nurse a Class H felony rather than a misdemeanor, as was previously the case.
The misdemeanor was punishable by up to nine months in jail and a fine of up to $10,000. The felony is punishable by up to six years in prison and a fine of $10,000 or both.
It previously was a felony to commit battery against an emergency medical care provider. Act 97 expands that Class H felony to cover battery against any health care provider who works in a hospital.
"Hospital" has a broad definition under the act and includes any facility devoted to treatment of and medical care for three or more nonrelated individuals.
The law was introduced as Senate Bill 163. The companion bill was Assembly Bill 175.
The lead authors of SB 163 were Senators Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) and Tim Carpenter (D-Milwaukee).
The lead co-sponsors were State Representatives Gae Magnafici (R-Dresser) and Cindi Duchow (R-Delafield).
State Reps. Jonathan Brostrom (D-Milwaukee) and Rob Stafsholt (R-New Richmond) voted against the bill.
District attorneys, Department of Corrections, Department of Justice and State Public Defender's Office all said they could not determine how much the new law would cost.
Kooyenga – Workplace violence should not be a part of the job for a nurse. However, the reality we have all seen depicted in the news shows otherwise and unfortunately, earlier this year, a nurse was beaten to death at an area healthcare facility. Workplace violence against nurses can be found in just about every type of practice setting – hospitals, clinics, home care, psychiatric, long term care and correctional health settings. .
Wisconsin Nurses Association – Instances of workplace violence against nurses have gone beyond the emergency room. Incidents are regularly taking place on other units of hospitals, same day surgery, ambulatory care, primary care, long term care, home care, hospice, and employer based clinics.
According to a report published by the American Nurses Association one in four nurses are assaulted while on the job. This data is similar to WNA's research. It is important to note that one common theme in all of these reports is that the majority of nurses did not report the incident. Reasons for not reporting include the belief that assaults are part of the job and/or the belief that their report will not be investigated and acted upon. This is why workplace violence against nurses is also referred to as the "Silent Epidemic."
Froedtert Health – There are a number of factors that contribute to the higher risk in a healthcare environment. Healthcare facilities are generally widely accessible to the general public and providers are committed to caring for all, both through their professional and ethical responsibilities to "do no harm" and through various laws and regulations....Patients often feel sick and are often frightened and facing uncertainty. Some are in significant pain. Others are under the influence of medications or illicit drugs, have a history of violence, or have a medical condition that impacts their decision-making and behavior. Family members and visitors can feel extreme stress, concern and anger when a loved one is facing a serious health issue. All of these factors can contribute to inappropriate acts of violence....We support this legislative effort to improve safety and discourage violence through a penalty enhancer.
Disability Rights Wisconsin – We respect the concerns of the bill's authors regarding addressing workplace violence against nurses. However, after reviewing the potential impact of the bill on people with disabilities, we are concerned that the bill may have unintended consequences and would not have changed the tragic incident that this proposal is responding to.
AB 175/ SB 163 has been described as addressing "bodily harm to a nurse" but the actual scope is far broader. The penalty enhancer included in this bill would also be applicable to situations involving "an individual working under the supervision of an RN or LPN." This is very expansive and would include personal care workers, Certified Nursing Assistants, and other paraprofessionals who work in a wide range of community settings including private homes and apartments, group homes and schools, as well as traditional healthcare settings.
We are also concerned that AB 175/ SB 163 could potentially criminalize actions by some people with disabilities that are a manifestation of their disability. This concern is particularly acute because of the expansive nature of the proposal and its applicability to large numbers of paraprofessionals who provide care to people with disabilities. Certain types of disabilities such as traumatic brain injury, dementia, autism, or mental illness, may in some cases manifest challenging behaviors, especially when an individual is in crisis. Unfortunately, on occasion these behaviors result in bodily harm to a caregiver. Under this bill a person with a disability could be charged with a Class H felony. While we acknowledge that intent is an element, that does not guarantee that a person with a disability will not be charged or convicted....
Registering for the bill
AFSCME International Union, Aurora Health Care Inc., Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups, Froedtert Health, LeadingAge Wisconsin, Medical College of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Academy of Physician Assistants, Wisconsin Association of School Nurses, Wisconsin Nurses Association, Wisconsin Professional Police Association.
Registering against the bill
Registering for "Other" position
Comment: We have concerns about the broad scope of this legislation; the term "intentional" can be interpreted subjectively. People with Alzheimer's or dementia, who may be experiencing a crisis situation, could potentially be charged with a Class H felony.
Ascension Wisconsin (supported bill with an expansion that was eventually adopted).
Disability Rights Wisconsin (see testimony above).
Greater Wisconsin Agency on Aging Resources
Comment: Concern-This bill could have unintended consequences as some illnesses/disabilities (dementia, traumatic brain injury, dementia, mental illness, etc) can manifest in behaviors that could subject individuals to being charged with a Class H felony.
League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Inc.
Comment: We could support this bill if amended to include all health personnel and to exempt patients determined to have certain behavioral disabilities, based on evidence-based standards.
Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin (supported bill with an expansion that was eventually adopted).
Wisconisn Academy of Physician Assistants (supported bill with an expansion that was eventually adopted).
Wisconsin Coalition of Independent Living Centers Inc.
Comment: This may have unintended consequences for some people's behavior who have dementia, autism, some mental illnesses and result in them having a felony.
Wisconsin Hospital Association (supported bill with an expansion that was eventually adopted)
WJI is taking a look at justice-related bills adopted this session.
2019 Act 31 – Requires that a sentence for intoxicated use of a vehicle (OWI homicide) include a prison term of at least five years. The sentencing judge, however, may impose a lesser term if there is a compelling reason and the judge states the reason on the record.
The law was introduced as AB 17; its companion Senate bill was SB 8.
It was signed by Gov. Tony Evers on Nov. 20, 2019.
Department of Corrections –$525,000 annually, including costs for treatment and contract jail beds.
Courts – Fewer than 50 cases annually will be affected. Undetermined, minimal impact.
District Attorneys – Unknown, minimal.
Department of Justice – Unknown.
Department of Transportation – None.
State Public Defender – There may be a slight cost increase as extended threat of incarceration may cause an increase in the number of cases resolved by trial rather than plea.
Rep. Jim Ott – Assembly Bill 17 (SB 8) would impose a mandatory minimum of 5 years incarceration for committing homicide while driving drunk. While many judges sentence appropriately, there is no mandatory minimum. We sometimes hear of sentences of as little as a year or two being delivered, and at least one case of less than a year....The bill allows the judge to use discretion and sentence less than five years if the court finds that it is in best interest of the community, the public will not be harmed and the court puts its reasons in writing.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association Inc. registered in favor of the bill.
The Association of State Prosecutors registered against the bill.
The lead authors of AB 17 were Ott (R-Mequon) and Rep. Samantha Kerkman (R-Salem).
The lead co-sponsors are Senators Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and David Craig (R-Big Bend).
WJI is providing summaries of justice-related laws adopted in the 2019-20 legislative session.
2019 Act 8 – Delays closing of scandal-plagued juvenile prisons Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake from Jan. 1, 2021 to July 1, 2021. Also allows the Department of Correction to temporarily move juveniles out of Lincoln Hills to a qualifying juvenile detention facility prior to the opening of new state secure facilities; eliminates the requirement that, to qualify for funding, some secured residential care centers for children and youth (SRCCCYs) be only for females; allows counties with SRCCYs that serve out-of-county residents to qualify for youth aid bonuses; and generally requires approval of the local governing body before the state makes changes to a state secure facility.
The law was introduced as AB 188; its companion Senate bill was SB 168.
The bill passed the Senate, 33-0; the Assembly approved it without a roll call vote. It was signed by Gov. Tony Evers on June 28, 2019.
The legislation was a trailer bill to 2017 Act 185.
Department of Corrections –Previously estimated it would cost $1,186,000 in FY20 and $10,544,800 in FY21 to establish one secure juvenile facility and provide supporting staff by January 1, 2021.
This bill will move the closure date of (Lincoln Hills) and (Copper Lake) into FY22. Prior to opening the new... (secure facilities), DOC will need budget and position authority to begin the process of hiring staff, developing institution policies and procedures, and developing programs. In accordance with DOC's staffing plan, budget and position authority will still be needed in FY20 and FY21 for a July 1, 2021 deadline....The impact of this bill will require DOC to simultaneously work to establish new Type 1 JCFs while continuing to provide services at its existing Type 1 JCFs. This bill does provide any additional budget or position authority increase.
Department of Children and Families – Unknown.
Department of Health Services –Unknown. Governor's budget provided $3,159,500 and 50.5 full-time equivalent positions in existing to open a 14-bed expansion using existing space at Mendota Juvenile Treatment Center. An additional $59 million budgeted for a 50-bed addition for both males and females. Legislation, however, did not include funding for staffing the expansions.
Department of Public Instruction – Unknown.
Department of Safety and Professional Services – None.
Legislative Audit Bureau – Unknown.
Rep. Michael Schraa – I was in the room when Governor Walker agreed to extend the original timeline to accomplish this momentous task. Although he was committed to his ambitious timeline, he agreed to allow more time in deference to the needs of the counties.
Several legislators have asked why we want to extend the timeline yet again. I absolutely do not support Governor Evers' proposal for an indefinite timeline. Troubled youth deserve a timely solution.
Unfortunately, we lost a lot of momentum in the executive transition. The result of which is that the counties have not received the timely response from the Juvenile Corrections Grant Committee that we had envisioned. The counties have requested six more months, so it is in everyone's best interest to make it possible for them to participate. I cannot stress strongly enough that the state cannot accomplish this juvenile corrections reform without the full participation of the counties.
Shannon Reed, DOC assistant deputy secretary – In our current system, local law enforcement officials, human services agencies, prosecutors, and judges have significant discretion and influence on whether and how youth land in secure facilities at the county level or at the state Department of Corrections. The decision to place youth in a secure setting rather than a less secure residential facility, or some other diversionary or community-based justice program, is decided at the local level.
So, it is not enough to simply want there to be fewer children placed in secure settings, as many in this room have stated. It is a matter of all of us who have influence in this process to work together toward the trauma-informed programming, consistent staff training, community involvement, mental and physical health services, and other steps that research tells us increases the likelihood that youth will successfully re-integrate into their families and communities.
Right now, there are 168 youth assigned to Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake Schools. This is a decrease of nearly 80% over the past 17 years. Today, 90% of our youth are identified as having one or more significantly adverse childhood experiences and almost half of the youth are enrolled in special education. More than 75% of the boys and 100% of the girls at Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake are receiving mental health services, in addition to the about 13% of boys who are currently placed at Mendota Juvenile Treatment Center for a serious mental health condition.
As Governor Evers said yesterday, we want to close Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake but we also have to look at the entire youth justice system that considers the continuum of offenses and offenders and where they are mentally and educationally. We at DOC agree a comprehensive plan for juvenile justice in this state is the best path forward. We urge all those who care about the youth involved in the juvenile justice system to consider Act 185 and these technical fixes just the first step in reforming the way we help young people never return to a Department of Corrections facility. Youth justice should not be punitive. It should be a place where vulnerable children - no matter what bad decisions they have made - have the opportunity to overcome the trauma they have experienced in their young lives, receive the education and health treatment services they deserve, and learn the skills necessary to grow into citizens who will successfully contribute to their communities and to our state.
The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, Milwaukee County, and the National Association of Social Workers – Wisconsin Chapter and the Wisconsin Counties Association registered in favor of the bill.
There were no registrations against the bill.
The main authors of AB 188 were Schraa (R-Oshkosh) and State Rep. Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee).
Its two main co-sponsors were State Senators Van H. Wanggaard (R-Racine) and Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee).
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