Proposed amendment would make it easier to deny defendants' release.


Byline: Michaela Paukner,

A proposed amendment to Wisconsin's constitutionwould make it easier forjudges to deny a defendant's release from jail before conviction.

The Assembly Committee on Constitution and Ethics heard testimony on Tuesday about Assembly Joint Resolution 107, an amendment that would change the pretrial process.

The amendment is part of a package of bills that would put in place new pretrial-detention procedures, and it's the first step the Legislature would have to take to change the pretrial process.

Current statutesallow pretrial detention for first-degree homicide, first-degree sexual assault and the sexual assault of a child.As the constitution stands, a judge can hold a pretrial hearing in certain situations butnotin others. A judge can deny release, but only under certainconditions.

The proposedresolution would allow pretrial detention if three conditions were met: The circumstances under which the accused would be denied release were specified, the period of time a person could be held before trial was limited, and the court was holding a pretrial detention hearing.

Rep. Cindi Duchow, R-Town of Delafield, and Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, introduced the amendment to the committee on Tuesday. Duchowcalled the Wisconsin's current pretrial-detention procedure unusable and said the judges she talked to had never put it into practice.

Wanggaard said the only way to protect the public from a dangerous criminal is to set a high bail, but an amended constitution would change that.

Mason Braunschweig, an assistant district attorney in Rock...

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