FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Madison, WI – State Bar President Patrick J. Fiedler issued the following statement today on the Second Chance Bill (Assembly Bill 387/Senate Bill 308):
The State Bar is disappointed that the Wisconsin Assembly adjourned early Friday morning without passing theSecond Chance Bill, which would have returned first-time, nonviolent 17-year-old offenders to juvenile court jurisdiction.
The bill, which would have reversed portions of current law, had major bipartisan momentum, with 54 legislative cosponsors. We are hopeful that Governor Walker will listen to the groundswell of support from legislators, parents and citizens statewide. We urge him to make an appropriation in the state’s 2015 biennial budget to achieve this important goal championed by the bill’s steadfast authors, Rep. Garey Bies (R-Sister Bay) and Sen. Jerry Petrowski (R-Marathon).
The current policy harms our community. Seventeen-year-olds with adult records can face difficulties that hinder them from making a positive contribution to society. They can find themselves blocked from leasing apartments, and prevented from obtaining financial aid for college or joining the armed forces.
Youth placed in an adult prison reoffend after release at higher rates than young people placed in a juvenile institution. The juvenile system, which has treatment and programming specifically tailored to youth, is much more effective in dealing with 17-year-olds and preventing them from reoffending.
Wisconsin is one of only 10 states that treat all 17-year-olds as adults. Our state cannot afford to continue to pay for policies that are failing 17-year-olds and our communities. We believe it’s time for Wisconsin to look forward and return nonviolent 17-year-olds to juvenile court and truly give them a second chance.
For more information contact Attorney Andrea Gage, public relations coordinator, State Bar of Wisconsin. She can be reached at org agage wisbar wisbar agage org, or by phone at (608) 250-6025.
Supporters of the Second Chance Bill include the conservative Right on Crime, a project of the Texas Public Policy Foundation; the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families; the State Public Defender; the Wisconsin Council of Churches; Disability Rights Wisconsin; WISDOM; the Wisconsin Catholic Conference; the Wisconsin Association of Family and Children’s Agencies; Wisconsin Family Ties; A Helping Heart; the National Association of Social Workers—WI Chapter; and the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.
Fiedler has extensive experience in the criminal justice system. He served as a Dane County Circuit Court Judge from 1993 to 2011, and was Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections from 1991 to 1993. Fiedler also served as U.S. Attorney for the Western District and as Waukesha County Assistant District Attorney. Fiedler is currently a partner at Axley Brynelson LLP.