By Gretchen Schuldt
The State Assembly's Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee will hold an announced-at-the-last-minute public hearing on a package of partisan "tougher on crime bills" Thursday in the State Capitol.
The hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. in room 412 East.
If you support criminal justice reform, chances are you will not like these Republican proposals. WJI opposes them.
The bill numbers, links to their text, and short summaries of what the legislation would do are below. The summaries are taken from Legislative Reference Bureau information and from the relevant bill's language. Each one will carry a fiscal cost, but the estimates are not yet available.
Please contact your legislator and join the fight for a reasonable criminal justice system. Find out who your state representatives are by going here and clicking on the "Who are My Legislators?" button.
The members of the criminal justice committee are listed here.
Assembly Bill 758 – Under this bill, a person in a facility to await a commitment trial as a sexually violent person is guilty of a Class H felony if he or she commits battery against an officer, employee, agent, visitor, or other resident of the facility. Class H felonies are punishable by up to six years in prison and / or a $10 000 fine.
Assembly Bill 802 – This bill would allow a judge, when determining when videoconferencing can be used in court, to consider the safety of the witness or the risk that the witness may be unavailable to testify if videoconferencing is not used
Assembly Bill 803 – The allowable use of deposition testimony in court instead of live testimony would be expanded under this bill. Deposition testimony would be acceptable if it appears that the witness is "at risk" of being intimidated and thus may not fully cooperate at trial. It also would be allowed if a judge finds that a witness "may have been" intimidated.
Assembly Bill 804 – This bill would increase the penalty for intimidating the victim or alleged victim of domestic abuse from a maximum of nine months incarceration and / or a $10,000 fine to a maximum of 10 years in prison and / or a $25,000 fine.
Assembly Bill 805 - This bill would require the Department of Corrections to recommend revocation of parole, probation, or extended supervision for anyone on supervision who is charged with a new crime.
Assembly Bill 806 – Any felony committed by an age-or-history-qualified juvenile would push that juvenile into the serious juvenile offender program or qualify him or her for placement in a juvenile correctional facility or secured residential care center.
Assembly Bill 807 - Third-offense shoplifters would face a mandatory minimum penalty of 180 days in jail under this bill.
Assembly Bill 808 – This one's a bit more complicated, so we'll just quote the LRB here. Under the bill, "if a prosecutor has charged a person with illegal possession of a firearm and the person has been convicted of, adjudicated delinquent for, or found not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect of, committing, soliciting, conspiring, or attempting to commit a violent felony, the prosecutor may not place the person in a deferred prosecution program and the prosecutor may not dismiss or amend the charge without the approval of the court. The court may approve the dismissal or amendment only if the court finds the action is consistent with the public's interest in deterring the possession of firearms by violent felons and with the legislature's intention to vigorously prosecute violent felons who illegally possess a firearm. If the court approves at least one dismissal or amendment in a year, the court must submit
an annual report to the legislature detailing each approval."
Assembly Bill 809 - This bill would add additional crimes to the list that limit eligibility for early release from prison.
Assembly Bill 817 – Judges would be prohibited from allowing no-bail releases from jail for defendants charged with bail jumping.
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