WJI is taking a look at justice-related bills adopted in the 2019-2020 legislative 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).
Act 8: Delaying juvenile justice reform
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).
WJI is providing summaries of justice-related laws enacted during the 2019-20 state legislative session.
2019 Act 16 – Creates a definition related to child pornography.
948.01 (1t) “Lewd exhibition of intimate parts” means the display of less than fully and opaquely covered intimate parts of a person who is posed as a sex object or in a way that places an unnatural or unusual focus on the intimate parts."
The law originated as SB 68. The companion Assembly bill was AB 71. It was signed by Gov. Tony Evers on July 10, 2019.
State Sen. Andre Jacque – Predators are using limited definitions of what is a sexually explicit video or image of children as a loophole, as present child pornography statues only apply when the child is engaged in a sexual act. Investigators are now very commonly seeing predators taking images of nearly naked children in see-through clothing that are suggestively posed and inappropriately sexualized and intended for sexual gratification in order to get around charges for possession of child pornography....
Finally, a few committee members expressed concern that sexts or innocent, 'baby in the bathtub' photos may be prosecuted as a result of enactment of SB 68. While those concerns are well-founded, we would like take the opportunity to reiterate and emphasize that sexts and 'baby in the bathtub' photos may be subject to child pornography charges under current law. The bill...(does) not affect the prosecutorial discretion district attorneys currently enjoy.
ACLU of Wisconsin – This bill is unnecessary because possession and distribution of child pornography is already illegal. Under 948.12, it is illegal for a person to knowingly: (1m) possesses, or accesses in any way with the intent to view any visual representation of a child engaging in sexually explicit conduct. "Sexually explicit conduct" is specifically defined by statute in 948.01 (7)....
We have seen children in other states prosecuted under the current child pornography definition when minors take pictures of themselves with their cell phones and share them with each other. This bill would compound those problems further by increasing the universe of images people are prohibited from "possessing or accessing," and could affect the lives of countless minors who are foolishly sending one another images that fall within this overly broad definition. The way in which young people use social media like Facebook, Snapchat, or Instagram make them easy venues to inadvertently snare them in the criminal justice system....
Child pornography and obscenity are unprotected and rightfully so; however, this bill would criminalize speech that is neither pornographic nor obscene. Under the so-called Miller test developed in the 1973 case Miller v. California, three elements must be satisfied for a work to be deemed obscene and therefore unprotected under the First Amendment: (i) the average person, applying contemporary community standards, must find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to prurient interest; (ii) the work must depict or describe, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct or excretory functions as specifically defined by applicable state law; and (iii) the work, taken as a whole, must lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value. This bill would, on its face, criminalize publications that do not fit this definition, as it would include publications that (i) are not patently offensive, (ii) do not depict sexual conduct, and (iii) do not lack serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.
The City of Milwaukee and the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association Inc. registered in support of the bill.
The main authors of SB 68 were Jacque (R-DePere) and Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee).
Its two main co-sponsors were Representatives Ron Tusler (R-Harrison) and David Crowley (D-Milwaukee).
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