December 10, 2015

3 of my justice bills introduced

By Senator Lena C. Taylor

In last week’s column, I told you about my agenda for the bills I’ll be introducing during the last few months of this legislative session. Today, I want you to know that I’ve already moved forward on three of those bills. All of them will improve the justice system.

Victim Notification of Revocation – Senate Bill 377 is one of a series of victim notification bills I will introduce. Far too often, survivors of crime live in fear of the person who victimized them.  This bill would help put some of those fears to rest and provide a degree of peace regarding the whereabouts of their criminal offender.  With 15,969 violent crimes reported in Wisconsin in 2012 and 139,102 property crimes reported, this bill has the potential to help many of the victims of those crimes.

DNA Expungement– In the effort to protect public safety and also balance the rights of those wrongfully accused of crimes, I introduced Senate Bill 398. The bill says if you are found not guilty or innocent of a crime and your DNA doesn’t match any other unsolved crimes, your DNA must be destroyed. According to the Innocence Project, there have been 330 post-conviction DNA exonerations in America. I believe our law should protect innocent people wrongfully accused of crimes just like the victims I’m trying to protect in the previous bill. If you were wrongfully accused of a crime, I believe our government should do everything in our power to return you to as normal of a life as possible, and that includes destroying your DNA on file.

Taxation by Citation – Our local governments should balance their budgets reasonably, just like you and I have to. This bill prevents cities and counties from raising excessive money by writing too many traffic and parking citations. You and I watched in horror as the events in Ferguson, MO took place in 2014. As the investigation surrounding the shooting death of Michael Brown by a Ferguson police officer unfolded, a disturbing pattern of policies and practices became evident. We both know that where racial disparities in police enforcement exists, disparities in tickets written also exists. This bill is intended to ensure cities and counties aren’t balancing their budget by excessive enforcement. Far too often, over enforcement is the beginning of a dangerous cycle. First it’s a few parking tickets that go unpaid. Then maybe a speeding ticket. Then someone falls on hard times and the next thing you know, their license is revoked and they can’t get to work so they lose their job. I believe in stopping that cycle before it ever begins.

These are just three of the more than 25 justice related bills I’m working on. In the weeks and months ahead, keep reading this column. I’ll be introducing more bills in the areas of justice reform, education, economic sustainability, health, democracy and more.

People often ask me what the best ways to stay informed about what I’m working on. Here are 5 easy ways to stay in the loop.

As always, if you have questions, concerns or ideas, please call me at 414-342-7176 or email me at Sen.Taylor@Legis.WI.Gov.