Joined by Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, Governor Walker signed seven bills into law at the Department of Justice crime lab in Milwaukee today, all aimed at protecting victims and holding offenders accountable.
Senate Bill 104, also known as Cindy's Law, increases protections for victims granted a restraining order or injunction by allowing the court to require a person who knowingly violates the order submit to GPS tracking.
Advocates of the legislation include the family of Cindy Bischof. Bischof died in March of 2008 when an ex-boyfriend turned stalker ignored a restraining order and shot her outside of her Elmhurst real estate office. She was 43.
"Cindy Bischof followed all of the rules of the law in an effort to protect herself, but it wasn't enough," Governor Walker said. "When law enforcers know where offenders are and where they've been, it gives victims an added layer of protection."
State Senator Rich Zipperer (R-Pewaukee) and State Representative Tyler August (R-Lake Geneva) authored Senate Bill 104.
Assembly Bill 269 also offers added protection for victims of domestic violence by strengthening the 72-hour no-contact order. Under current law, a person arrested in connection with a domestic violence incident is not allowed to contact the victim for 72 hours following an arrest. This bill increases the penalty for violators from a maximum $1000 fine, to a maximum $10,000 fine, or up to nine months in prison, or both.
"We know the most dangerous time for someone involved in a physically and mentally abusive relationship is when they try to leave. This bill sends the message that ignoring the law at this critical time will not be tolerated," Governor Walker said.
Teri Jendusa-Nicolai of Wind Lake hopes this law will deter offenders from violating the no-contact rule, unlike her estranged husband. Following an arrest for domestic violence, he returned to the house immediately after he was bailed out of jail. Teri believes the lack of accountability fueled his behavior. Just days after their final divorce hearing, he beat her with a baseball bat, stuffed her into a garbage can and left her for dead in a freezing storage shed. She survived by calling 911 on her cell phone and now advocates for other victims.
Governor Walker thanked State Representative Joan Ballweg (R-Markesan) and State Senator Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) for their work on the bill.
Assembly Bill 397, also known as Caylee's Law, requires parents and guardians to notify police in a timely manner when their child is missing.
"The Caylee Anthony case in Florida made it clear that we need a law against the unthinkable crime of a parent failing to report a missing child," Governor Walker said. "I want to thank State Representative Samantha Kerkman (R-Powers Lake) and State Senator Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point) for authoring this legislation."
Assembly Bill 263 gives judges the authority to order those convicted of obstructing an officer to reimburse law enforcement agencies for expenses related to misleading or false information. Governor Walker thanked State Representative Dan Knodl (R-Germantown) and State Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) for authoring the bill that will help prevent taxpayers from footing the bill for police investigations based on false reports.
Senate Bill 173 offers increased protection of the public by giving courts, attorneys and law enforcement access to juvenile criminal records. Current law requires these records be kept confidential, to protect young offenders from a lifetime of repercussions due to errors made as a child.
A high profile case in Milwaukee showed how difficult it is protect the public from young, violent, repeat offenders under the current system. Markus Evans was first arrested at age seven for stabbing his teacher with a pencil. A string of violent crimes and arrests followed, but Evans repeatedly received leniency due in part to the lack of access to his criminal record. At age 15, Evans shot his cousin in the back and spent only 14 months in a juvenile facility. Two years later he shot and killed a 17-year old girl who was walking home from school.
"I want to thank State Senator Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and State Representative Robin Vos (R-Town of Rochester) for their hard work in getting this critical piece of legislation to my desk," Governor Walker said.
Senate Bill 536 offers greater protections for victims of child trafficking by extending the time allowed to press charges, making it easier to prosecute child trafficking cases, and allowing courts to terminate parental rights in cases involving child trafficking. The law also makes it a felony charge to knowingly access child pornography. Governor Walker thanked Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, State Senator Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) and State Representative Amy Loudenbeck for their work on the child protection bill.
Assembly Bill 209 closes a loophole and requires courts to abide by minimum sentencing standards set in 2006 for convicted child predators, child pornographers and those who prey on children online. Under this law, courts may only lessen the minimum sentence in cases where the offender is no more than 48 months older than the child. Governor Walker thanked State Representative Mark Honadel (R-South Milwaukee) and Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) for their work on the bill.