May 11, 2009
Inaugural Meeting of the Joint Review Committee on Criminal Penalties
Taylor sets new precedent on criminal penalty legislation
(MADISON) Today, Senator Lena C. Taylor (D-Milwaukee) convened the inaugural meeting of the Joint Review Committee on Criminal Penalties to address a report on the impact and appropriateness of criminal penalties as proposed in Senate Bill 14. The Joint Review Committee takes action on reports to address any costs or savings associated with proposed penalties, consistency with current penalties, and suggest any alternative penalties. The committee which is comprised of legislators, judges, agency officials, law enforcement, and county officials was created in 2001 and has never met.
“The Joint Review Committee on Criminal Penalties needed to be activated,” Taylor commented. “For far too
long, new and enhanced penalties have been proposed or enacted that have driven Wisconsin’s prison
population to the bursting point. The committee is designed to give an accurate assessment of the need for
changes or the appropriateness of proposed penalties.”
The committee met to discuss the report on 2009 Senate Bill 14 which changes the definition of sexual
intercourse for incest crimes. The committee found that the penalties proposed under the bill were consistent
with current criminal penalties for incest crimes and appropriately administered justice for the crime. In
addition, while the committee noted that caseload and costs may increase under the bill, costs will likely be
absorbed in current budgets due to the small number of cases charged, and most cases will be shifted from
charges filed under other statutes to the incest prohibition statute.
“Today’s report shows that a new precedent has been set in the Legislature,” Taylor said. “This committee
objectively discussed the effect of the legislation on the system and the possible costs associated, and issued a report of its findings to the Legislature. This kind of discussion needs to happen on every bill that adjusts the criminal penalty structure.”
The report of the committee to the Senate on SB 14 can be requested from the Senate Chief Clerk or from the
Office of Senator Taylor.