State Sen. Van H. Wanggaard (R-Racine) is the chief sponsor of Marsy's Law, a proposed, lengthy amendment to the State Constitution that clearly would violate the U.S. Constitution, be extremely difficult to implement, likely would add to jail crowding, and potentially would cost local taxpayers a bundle.
The proposed amendment would grant 16 specific rights to alleged victims of crimes, but the ballot question voters will be asked to answer doesn't explain any of them. (See our "Marsy's Flaws" page for more details.)
We are asking supporters of the amendment for their views on how they see it working in Wisconsin. We wrote to Sen. Wanggaard with the questions below. We'll share his answers when we get them.
Marsy’s Law provides several new rights to victims. Among them is a right, “upon request, to attend all proceedings involving the case.”
The state speedy trial law generally allows misdemeanor defendants to have trials within 60 days and felony defendants to have trials within 90 days. Would the right of victims under Marsy’s Law to attend proceedings override defendants’ right to speedy trials? What if there are several victims of a crime who want to attend proceedings, but they all have different schedules? How long could a defendant be held in pre-trial detention due to such scheduling conflicts? Would defendants held in jail longer because of these types of scheduling conflicts be liable for any jail boarding or other costs incarceration-related costs incurred during the “extra” time they are in jail?
What will happen to relieve jail crowding if Marsy’s Law leads to fewer pre-trial detainees getting released in a timely fashion? Will the state provide more aid to counties to pay the cost of housing inmates and building additional jail capacity? Or will that be left to local taxpayers?
The one-sentence referendum question says virtually nothing about what the verbiage of the proposed amendment. Why not?
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