(MADISON) Senator Lena C. Taylor (D-Milwaukee) celebrated the final passage of Senate Bill 394 which established a pay progression plan for assistant district attorneys in Wisconsin. Taylor, a long champion for criminal justice reforms, authored the bill in bipartisan fashion with Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon) and Reps. Michelle Litjens (R-Oshkosh) and Jon Richards (D-Milwaukee). Pay progression is a tool used to retain experienced prosecutors through financial incentive to remain in the public sector rather than seeking employment in a private firm.
“Experienced prosecutors are in high demand in the Wisconsin justice system,” Taylor noted. “When there is a lack of experience on the part of the prosecutors and coupled with shortage of prosecutors in this state, you have a justice system that makes critical mistakes and hampers justice. This new law will serve to keep the people we have trained working, end turnover, and improve the efficiency of the courts.”
Taylor has worked on issues of criminal justice funding and operations since her inauguration in the Legislature. She led the Committee on Justice Reinvestment which recommended a data driven path to reducing prison populations and preventing over 2.5 billion dollars of prison building growth over the next ten years. This past session she led the Special Committee on Criminal Justice Funding & Strategies before the Republican majority killed that group and their work.
“Despite the lack of progress on many fronts in criminal justice this session, this bill is one bright spot of advancement,” Taylor commented. “Now the Legislature must turn its attention to the pressing needs of pay progression for the public defenders, the reimbursement rate for private attorneys, need for judgeships, and the overspending on prisons and loss of human capital.”
The bill passed the State Assembly on the last day of the regular legislative session and will now be sent to the Governor for his signature. Taylor will continue to champion reforms for the entire justice system in the coming years of public service.