Wanggaard Bill Seeks to Close Dangerous Loophole
Unfortunately, a dangerous loophole was recently brought to light that could allow potentially dangerous felons and serious child sex offenders to slip through the cracks in our sentencing system, releasing them back into society prematurely. To close the loophole and protect our citizens, I recently authored Senate Bill 181, and I was proud to testify in favor of the bill before the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee on Tuesday.
The importance of this bill was brought to my attention by Racine County District Attorney Rich Chiapete after current law resulted in the dismissal of a homicide case against Keith Abbott in Racine County. Abbott was charged with a brutal homicide of a young woman who was stabbed to death, wrapped in plastic and transported to Rock County by Abbott in his pickup truck. Her body was found in a farm field about 40 days after her disappearance.
Despite the fact that her blood was found on Abbott's truck and clothing, Abbott was found not competent to stand trial. Under current law, if at a competency hearing an individual is found not competent to stand trial, but will likely become competent over 12 months then the court may commit the individual for treatment to regain competency. If at the end of 12 months they are still found not competent to stand trial, then the case is dismissed. This was the case with Abbott's trial, when after 12 months the court determined that Abbott could be restored to competency with additional treatment, but dismissed the case because the 12 month time limit expired.
Senate Bill 181 eliminates the arbitrary "one year" rule and allows treatment until the defendant's competency is restored for the most serious offenses. I hope that my colleagues see the importance of this measure so we can keep alleged offenders from being released into society prematurely, and keep cases such as the Abbott case from slipping through the cracks.