As of today, Wisconsin Senator Jerry Petrowski, Representative Rob Hutton, and Representative Mary Czaja are circulating a bill to attempt to reduce recidivism rates among non-violent, first-time 17 year olds.
The bill would cause this type of offender to file their cases in juvenile court rather than in adult court, but excludes violent/repeat offenders who are 17.
“Wisconsin is one of only 9 states that still prosecutes all 17 year olds as adults,” says Senator Petrowski. “Young people with adult criminal records are less likely to graduate from high school, they have difficulty finding future employment, and face barriers to higher education and military service. The kids we’re talking about are non-violent and are having their first brush with the legal system and they deserve a second chance to become responsible adults.”
Judges will still hold the ability to decide on a case-by-case basis whether to send these offenders to the juvenile or adult system under this bill.
The bill is ultimately intended to reduce crime rates in Wisconsin, reduce recidivism rates among non-violent, first time 17 year old offenders, and save taxpayers money in the long run.
To read the news release put out by the Wisconsin Legislature today, click here.
To read the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel‘s blog post about the bill, click here.
Many of the cases Bryan Stevenson describes in Just Mercy deal with juveniles being convicted as adults, even at the ages of 13 and 14, and spending most of their adult lives in prison. The 2014 “Slender Man” stabbing case is a current example of such issues taking place here in Wisconsin. A recent ABC News article entitled “‘Slender Man’ Stabbing: Teens to Be Tried in Adult Court” by Emily Shapiro discusses the August 10 ruling to try Morgan Geyser and Anissa Weier in adult court. Geyser and Weier were both 12 years old when they stabbed their friend Payton Leutner 19 times in the woods surrounding Waukesha, Wisconsin on August 31, 2014. Though Leutner suffered serious injuries, she ultimately pulled through and survived the stabbing. Geyser and Weier were arrested shortly after the crime occurred.
Image from BBC
Shapiro discusses Geyser and Weier’s fascination with “Slender Man,” a fictional character who supposedly stalks children. The two girls believed that their actions would allow them to live with Slender Man in his mansion in the woods of northern Wisconsin.
In a related article entitled “‘Slender Man’ Stabbing: Not Guilty Pleas Entered for Teens,” Shapiro reports that a Wisconsin court entered not guilty pleas for Geyser and Weier on August 21, 2015. The court did so after the defendants’ attorneys stood mute after being asked to enter pleas, which attorney Maura McMahon described as a way to object to the court’s jurisdiction – in this case, the decision that Geyser and Weier be tried as adults. Geyser and Weier are now both 13 years old, and if they are found guilty of the first-degree attempted homicide charges they face, they could receive sentences of up to 65 years in prison.
To read “‘Slender Man’ Stabbing: Teens to Be Tried in Adult Court,” click here.
To read “‘Slender Man’ Stabbing: Not Guilty Pleas Entered for Teens,” click here.