Wisconsin Bail Terms Could Get Stronger With Spring Ballot Question
The way the system stands now, Wisconsin courts allow repeat offenders extra benefits that other states don't. But that could change this spring when voters head to the ballot box.
At issue is whether or not judges can take prior convictions into account when establishing bail eligibility, bail conditions, and set amounts. Each of the 49 other states in the nation allow for this; Wisconsin currently doesn't. And that's an issue for many in the judicial system and in law enforcement.
That's why the Wisconsin State Senate chose to do something about it, according to details in an article in the Superior Telegram [paywall]. Wisconsin Senator Romaine Quinn explains:
"We know that our current system unfairly and unsafely handcuffs judges as they make bail decisions. We are the only state that does not allow multiple factors in bail determination. This system emboldens repeat offenders and frustrates our men and women in law enforcement."
The Bail Reform Bill that was passed in both the Wisconsin Senate and the Wisconsin Assembly seeks to find the balance between providing due process for those accused as well as protecting the general public from repeat offenders. Wisconsin Representative Chanze Green - one of the co-authors of the bill adds:
"This bail reform bill is a tool to aid judges in setting bail and keep violent offenders off our streets. This proposed constitutional amendment will help ensure public safety while also protecting due process for criminal defendants."
If voters decide to amend the Wisconsin State Constitution, it would judges to look at the whole picture and decide accordingly.
When Wisconsin voters head to the polls, they'll be greeted with a two questions "Yes" votes to those questions "would amend...the constitution and allow judges to consider past convictions for violent crimes when setting bail".
The spring election in Wisconsin happens Tuesday, April 4.