Official Government Communication

Dear Friend,

Welcome to my email newsletter. There is a lot happening at the State Capitol and it is my hope that this email will help you stay in touch with your government. As your Senator, I truly believe in public service. If there is anything my office can do to assist you, please feel free to contact us.

Here to serve,

      

Sen. Lena Taylor

4th District

Strip search bill strips clothes and dignity

Today, Sen. Nikiya Harris Dodd and I held a press conference on Senate Bill 248, which will likely make its way to the Senate Floor soon. I opposed the bill when it was before me in the Senate Judiciary Committee and will continue to shine a light on the practice of strip searching non-violent temporary detainees. This bill, as you might remember, removes the current requirement that a person be arrested or detained for at least twelve hours before they are strip searched. I absolutely hear what the Wisconsin State Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs Association and the Badger State Sheriffs Association are saying in support of SB-248. I get that smaller communities have space challenges that make it difficult to hold a person in their own holding room or cell for twelve hours, and I agree that we must keep prisoners and jail staff safe. However, just as the current strip search regulations present challenges for smaller communities, SB-248 would create greater challenges in places like Milwaukee where the current regulations already create a climate full of full of abuse.

There is documented proof that we have a strip search problem in Milwaukee. In June 2013, Devin Raglan was a passenger in a car with two male friends. They were stopped by the police. When a bullet and marijuana were found on the driver, Raglan was also patted down. Next, however, Ragland was forced to drop his pants. An officer felt his testicles through his basketball shorts and when backup officers arrived, one pulled Ragland’s shorts and underwear away. Ragland was arrested for being a minor with cigarettes—certainly a crime, but a crime worthy of this level of humiliation? I think not. Ragland’s story is just one of many. A Milwaukee attorney I spoke with has 14 cases of unlawful strip searches pending in federal court. One involves a man who was strip searched in a Milwaukee jail. Officers thought he had drugs in his rectum so they made him attempt to defecate into a box on the floor to evacuate the drugs. I hate to spoil the ending for you, but this man had no drugs.

I understand that law enforcement in smaller and mid-sized communities feel current law is insufficient to protect them. But current law and SB-248 are insufficient to protect Milwaukeeans. I attempted unsuccessfully to amend the bill in committee and will continue to do my best to limit the likelihood you or someone you know may be unnecessarily subjected to this humiliating practice.

Creation of Milwaukee office of African American affairs

On Wednesday, Milwaukee County Supervisor Khalif Rainey and Milwaukee Alderman Willie Wade held a press conference with State Representative Leon Young (D-Milwaukee) to call for the creation of an office on African American Affairs. Every day at every level of government we see the disparate treatment of African Americans. Also on Wednesday, in the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, my colleagues and I voted on bills that increase strip searches and prison sentences for certain crimes and redefined adequate parenting, all of which we know have and will disproportionately impact African Americans. When I became co-chair of the Minority Unemployment Task Force I spoke about our need for a coordinated effort across all levels of government to address issues at their root and solve racial disparities throughout all facets of our society. I congratulate Supervisor Rainey and Alderman Wade for highlighting these issues and I look forward to working with Rep. Young and my state legislative colleagues to create a vehicle to help reverse Wisconsin’s dismal records in regard African American race relations.

For more of my thoughts on this crucial matter see the guest column I wrote on this issue.

Governor Walker delays DOT construction projects

Governor Walker’s administration announced early this month that the state is delaying five major Department of Transportation projects, but a list compiled by the DOT shows that scores of other smaller projects are being pushed off for the next six years. Among the DOT crucial projects now up for neglect is the widening of I-39/90 from the Illinois border to Madison, a project that would ease travel along that route significantly.

Last year, Wisconsin voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment preventing governors and legislators from raiding the transportation fund for purposes other than transportation. While that sounds nice, it hasn't solved the problem that our Governor is ignoring; a need for a long-term funding solution to pay for our infrastructure.

I believe that as elected officials we are here to do the difficult things. Of course no one wants to see their taxes go up, but no one wants to see their roads crumble into disrepair either. Wisconsin has a serious problem with its transportation infrastructure which calls for a set of serious, well-considered solutions. Unfortunately Governor Walker and Republicans rejected an opportunity to solve this crisis during the last budget and Democrats likely won't be allowed to bring real solutions to the table. Check out this article to learn more about this issue. 

Milwaukee gun crime prosecution

I know you are used to reading bad news from the Capitol, so hopefully this article comes as a breath of fresh air. It appears lobbying from Milwaukee's Senate Democratic caucus was successful in urging the Joint Committee on Finance co-chairs, Senator Darling and Representative Nygren, to address the backlog of prosecution in gun violence cases that Milwaukee is currently experiencing due to increased gun violence in our city. A mere 50 percent of this year’s homicides are considered cleared. When compared to our all-time high in 2008 of 93 percent, this is a staggering amount. While funding two positions for special prosecutors to help in this matter is only one component of a broader Milwaukee Gun Violence Initiative, it is a critical one. My colleagues and I are prepared to take each necessary step in addressing this issue, beginning with prosecution backlog.

 

 

 

 

 

Stay in touch:

     Email: Sen.Taylor@legis.wi.gov

    Milwaukee:  414-342-7176

    Madison:     608-266-5810

 

   

   

Community Events:

2nd Annual Blackout Awareness Event. Prevention, awareness, healing from the inside out. Saturday November 7, 1-4pm. More info here.

Free workouts every Saturday with New Balance Milwaukee! More info here.

Marquette University Graduate School Open House. November 5, tours begin at 4pm. More info here.

 

 This is an official government communication from Sen. Lena C. Taylor. If you no longer wish to receive these emails, click here to send me an email to unsubscribe.