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As I See It

Battling plans for bail reform



When it comes to deciding how to treat people accused of crimes, the differences couldn’t be more stark. Wisconsin republicans are pushing a constitutional amendment that will appear on the April ballot which would allow judges more discretion in setting bail. If approved, the measure would make it harder for defendants to get out of jail on bail as they await their court proceedings. It would increase the number of non-bailable offenses, and would require judges to consider the defendant’s record when setting bail. There seems to be some momentum for such a change. That is largely due to the case of Darrell Brooks Jr., the man who plowed into a Christmas parade in Waukesha and killed six people. He had been accused of trying to run over the mother of his child, but was given a bail of just $1000. He made bail, and days later was arrested for the parade tragedy. Democrats say making it harder for arrestees to make bail could worsen the disparities between rich and poor, and does not necessarily improve public safety. They argue that bail is only meant to ensure a defendant returns to court, and should not be a punishment since they haven’t yet been convicted. They even want to do away with cash bail entirely. But in the court of public opinion, it appears that thanks to the Brooks case, public safety is likely to trump personal liberties.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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  1. Kent Porter

    March 21, 2023 at 5:37 am

    Its about time

  2. Darin

    March 21, 2023 at 7:33 am

    Republicans can give judges more tools to make bail harder, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will use said tools.

  3. Wayne

    March 21, 2023 at 9:04 am

    Incarcerating people with no resources before they even have their day in court is going to fill the jails, cost more taxpayer dollars and put more pressure on understaffed systems. Let alone the questionable constitutionality of the idea we can find better ways than this knee jerk reaction.

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