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Investing in Wisconsin: Protecting the Innocent and Seeking Justice for Victims

Press Release

By:
Date:
Location: Madison, WI

Today, Governor Scott Walker announced a $14 million law enforcement budget investment aimed at keeping Wisconsinites safe and helping domestic abuse victims and sexual assault victims through a new package of public safety initiatives.

"One of the basic functions of government is to ensure public safety and health," said Governor Scott Walker. "By enacting these initiatives, Wisconsin will reaffirm its commitment to public safety, protecting our children, and helping crime victims."
Along with the announcement today, Governor Walker plans to make stops across the state with Attorney General, J.B. Van Hollen.

"I commend Governor Walker for his justice-related budget proposals. These proposals reflect my view that public safety should be the first priority of government and will help to make Wisconsin a safer place to live," Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said.

The initiatives announced by Governor Walker today include:
· Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC): Invest an additional $1 million in new state funds and add five new full-time employees in the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, which works to counter the emerging threat of offenders using the Internet or other online technology to sexually exploit children. These new positions will be focused on child sex trafficking and will enable DOJ to engage in proactive investigations of those who seek out children online in an attempt to harm or exploit them.

· Sexual Assault Victims Services (SAVS): Provide $4 million in direct state funding to the Sexual Assault Victims Services grant program to replace previous surcharge revenue. Penalty surcharge revenue previously funded SAVS and is declining, putting a strain on these important services. SAVS grants are awarded on a competitive basis to local sexual assault service providers, including counties and tribal governments. The funds are used for crisis response to sexual assault, advocacy for victims to include accompanying victims to court, and services focused on sexual assault prevention.

· GPS Monitoring of First-Time Restraining Orders: Allow courts to require GPS monitoring of certain dangerous individuals receiving first-time restraining orders. The Governor's budget will include a $3 million grant program to fund this program. This program is similar to Cindy's Law under which persons who violate restraining orders could be tracked by GPS. Violators of GPS tracking/restraining orders are subject to criminal penalties up to 9 months in jail and/ or a $10,000 fine.

o Under this program, a court must find the person is more likely than not to cause serious bodily harm. Among the factors to be considered are:

§ Whether the person has allegedly caused physical injury, intentionally abused pets or damaged property, or committed sexual assault, an act of strangulation, or forcible entry to gain access to the petitioner;
§ Whether the person has threatened any individual, including the petitioner, with harm;
§ Whether the person has a history of improperly using or threatening to use a firearm or other dangerous weapon.

DNA at Arrest--Prosecute the Guilty, Exonerate the Innocent: Through this program, the Governor's budget will fund $6 million for local law enforcement to take DNA swabs of all felony arrestees, including juveniles and those adults convicted of any misdemeanors, in addition to a small subset of misdemeanor arrests for sexual-related crimes. 25 other states and the federal government have the requirement to take DNA upon felony arrest and it saves lives by identifying serious offenders and putting them in jail. It is estimated approximately 68,000 samples will be collected annually.
The DOJ must purge all records and information upon a written request if all charges requiring submission have been dismissed, if found not guilty, one-year has passed since the arrest and the individual has not been charged, or a conviction has since been reversed, set aside, or vacated.
The surcharge is $250 for each felony case and $200 for all other criminal cases. This would eliminate the current DNA surcharge.
· Office of Justice Assistance (OJA) Transfer to DOJ: Transfer nearly all of the responsibilities of the Office of Justice Assistance to DOJ, which already works with state and local law enforcement on many of the same things as OJA. By transferring OJA to DOJ, the state will realize increased efficiencies at a vital time as federal funds continue to decrease. This transfer does not eliminate any programs or responsibilities, but instead combines them with similar functions at the DOJ.

o Example of Programs moving to DOJ:

§ Violence against Women Act Funds
§ Byrne/ Justice Assistance Grants (JAG)
§ Treatment Alternative Diversion program
§ WISCOM/Interoperability


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