Gretchen Schuldt

48 Justice-Related Proposals by Evers

Budget plan packed with proposed changes to state system of justice.

By , Wisconsin Justice Initiative - Feb 17th, 2021 04:59 pm
Milwaukee County Courthouse

Milwaukee County Courthouse. Photo by Jeramey Jannene

Gov. Tony Evers wants to expand eligibility for having criminal records expunged, do away with the plea-coercing charge of felony bail jumping, and legalize recreational marijuana.

Many of his justice-related proposals are almost certainly doomed in the Republican-controlled state Legislature. But they are alive and well right now, and some, like establishing a council or commission to review the state’s sentencing structure, may not even need legislative approval.

Here’s a very quick look at some of his proposals. Most of the language is taken directly from the governor’s budget narratives.

Evers proposes:

  • Eliminating automatic original adult court jurisdiction for youth under the age of 18 and modifying the conditions under which a youth under the age of 18 may be waived into adult court.
  • Raising the age that a circuit court or municipal court exercises adult court jurisdiction on individuals from 17 years of age to 18 years of age.
  • Removing statutory daily rates for placements at juvenile correctional facilities and allowing the Department of Corrections to establish rates that reflect the number of supervised youth and the costs for providing care.
  • Eliminating Type 1 juvenile correctional facilities (Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake youth prisons) and authorizing DOC to operate secured residential care centers for children and youth.
  • Eliminating the Serious Juvenile Offender Program to reflect evidenced-based decision making practices that recognize the risk and needs of youth. The Serious Juvenile Offender Program would continue for youth under that disposition prior to the effective date of the elimination.
  • Prohibiting the use of restraints on anyone under the age of 18 when appearing before a juvenile or criminal court unless the court orders restraints after finding that their use is necessary.
  • Eliminating the use of detention for youth who have violated a court order for having committed a status offense.
  • Limiting the use of detention sanctions or holds to situations where there is a public safety risk.
  • Increasing the minimum age of delinquency from 10 years old to 12 years old to enable more age-appropriate, evidence-based youth justice programs.
  • Creating a sentence adjustment procedure for individuals who commit criminal offenses prior to the age of 18.
  • Creating certain mitigating factors that a court must consider when sentencing an individual who committed a criminal offense prior the age of 18.
  • Spending $3.1 million to create four circuit court branches in 2021 and four in 2022.
  • Expanding the earned release program to include educational, vocational, treatment or other qualifying training programs that are evidence-based to reduce recidivism.
  • Allowing a sentencing court to reduce the term of a person’s extended supervision if certain conditions apply.
  • Expanding the conditions under which an individual may have his or her criminal record expunged of a conviction.
  • Creating an extreme risk protection injunction procedure where a court, after a hearing, may order an individual to refrain from possessing a firearm if it finds by clear and convincing evidence that he or she is substantially likely to injure himself or herself or another by possessing a firearm. As recommended, a court must hold an extreme risk protection injunction hearing after a petition is filed by a law enforcement officer, family member or household member.
  • Creating a civil cause of action against a person who, with certain intent, unnecessarily summons a law enforcement officer and causes the officer to arrive at a location to contact another person.
  • Modifying the process by which DOC may revoke the extended supervision, probation or parole of a person in the department’s care and modifying the sanctions procedure for certain rule violations.
  • Creating an earned compliance credit for certain eligible persons in the department’s care. The earned compliance credit would equal the amount of time served on extended supervision or parole without violating any conditions or rules of extended supervision or parole.
  • Requiring the DOC to identify, via an annual report to the Governor and Legislature, the cost savings incurred by the modifications to the earned release and extended supervision processes included in this bill. The savings would be used for r training programs for persons in the department’s care, recidivism reduction services and community supervision.
  • Establishing a Sentencing Review Council to study and make recommendations regarding the state’s criminal code, equity in sentencing, the state’s bifurcated sentencing structure, and sentences for violations committed by those between 18 and 25 years of age.
  • Eliminating the felony penalty for bail jumping and allowing for a misdemeanor penalty regardless of the original charge.
  • Spending $1.8 million over the biennium to allow more incarcerated people to enroll in and complete adult basic education and $3 million to maintain and improve career technical education offerings in prisons.
  • Providing $1.6 million to expand access to medication-assisted substance abuse treatment.
  • Spending $3.1  million to expand by 50 beds residential community alternatives to revocations of community supervision.
  • Requiring a diversion and restitution alternative for certain misdemeanor offenses.
  • Limiting the use of restraints on pregnant and postpartum people in correctional facilities and providing them access to certain tests, materials, services and information.
  • Spending $6.2 million to supervise increased sex offender populations.
  • Creating a program that supports expanding the capacity of behavioral crisis lines that provide an alternative to 9-1-1 for nonemergency behavioral health issues and supports the research and design of creating programs to divert behavioral health situations in 9-1-1 centers.
  • Spending $2 million to create a program that supports community organizations that use evidence-based strategies to mediate conflicts, prevent retaliation and connect individuals to community support.
  • Establishing certain principles that must be in a law enforcement agency’s use of force policy, including prohibiting the use of choke holds, and requiring law enforcement agencies to publish their use of force policies on the Internet.
  • Requiring the Law Enforcement Standards Board to develop and biennially review a model use of force policy for law enforcement that includes certain elements and other best practices.
  • Requiring that law enforcement officers annually complete at least eight hours of training on use of force options.
  • Creating a procedure for law enforcement agencies, jails and juvenile detention facilities  to receive and review an officer candidate’s employment file from prior employers.
  • Prohibiting an officer from entering premises subject to a warrant without first identifying that he or she is an officer and announcing the authority and purpose of the entry (no-knock warrants).
  • Providing $8 million in new funding to reimburse counties for costs associated with providing services to crime victims and witnesses.
  • Requiring, with some exceptions, that any firearm transfer be done through federally licensed firearm dealers with background checks conducted on recipients.
  • Converting county reimbursements for providing services to crime victims and witnesses currently funded by penalty surcharge funding to general purpose revenue.
  • Converting Youth Diversion Program grants currently funded by penalty surcharge funding to general purpose revenue.
  • Increasing by $2 million funding for Treatment Alternatives and Diversion Programs.
  • Repealing restrictions the Legislature put on the attorney general related to settling claims and handling settlement funds.
  • Implementing a “ban the box” policy that would define as “employment discrimination” the consideration of a job applicant’s conviction record prior to the applicant being selected for an interview.
  • Charging all bail-jumping cases and misdemeanors, eliminating the felony bail-jumping charge.
  • Requiring law enforcement to collect information related to traffic stops.
  • Establishing an equity officer position in the attorney general’s office to identify opportunities to advance equity in government operations.
  • Legalizing marijuana.
  • Indexing to inflation the amount paid to private bar attorneys appointed by the State Public Defender’s Office to represent indigent defendants.
  • Adding 20 positions to the State Public Defender’s Office to to address workload related to reviewing all video evidence from police body-worn and dash cameras.

Gretchen Schuldt writes a blog for Wisconsin Justice Initiative, whose mission is “To improve the quality of justice in Wisconsin by educating the public about legal issues and encouraging civic engagement in and debate about the judicial system and its operation.”

One thought on “48 Justice-Related Proposals by Evers”

  1. Mingus says:

    How about having the same laws that apply to public employees in Wisconsin apply to police unions. This would lead to better policing with policing policies negotiated with the local city or village government and not dictated by the usually fringe conservative leadership of the police unions.

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