(Madison) A proposed constitutional amendment making changes to cash bail is moving briskly through the Wisconsin legislature. It passed the Assembly Judiciary on a 6-1 vote Wednesday, where Milwaukee Democrat Sylvia Ortiz-Velez was a yes despite concerns.
“I would prefer a system that would keep the public safe from people who do pose a public threat but at the same time ensuring we don’t have people in custody who are nonviolent offenders,” says Ortiz-Velez.
Two Rivers Republican Shae Sortwell says the amendment will restore discretion to judges which was taken away by lawmakers decades ago.
“I believe we need to go back to what we had in 1980 before we screwed up in 1981 to give the judges this flexibility so that we can have real consideration of issues that directly affect our communities,” says Sortwell.
Governor Tony Evers was asked his thoughts in bail reform while he stopped in Watertown on Tuesday.
“I do believe that bail needs to be addressed,” says Evers. “I think some of the things that you mentioned especially about considering the violent nature of someone’s previous offenses…that makes sense to me. We have to make sure that the folks that are prosecuting people that may have committed criminal events that they have the ability to make sure that communities are safe…obviously, I think everybody supports that.”
The amendment passed both chambers of the legislature with bipartisan support last session. Proponents hope to have it before voters for consideration on the statewide ballot in April.