Wisconsin assembly bill would lessen the penalty for bail jumpingSubmitted: 12/05/2019
Story By Stephen Goin

Wisconsin assembly bill would lessen the penalty for bail jumping
WISCONSIN - New legislation at the state level could make the penalty for bail jumping less severe.

Some law enforcement officials in Oneida County believe that move would be misguided.

Under current Wisconsin law, bail jumping means failure to comply with the terms of a bond after being released from custody in a pending criminal matter.

"It's violating basically the rules that the judge set forth for you for future court dates, it's the rules to basically keep you out of jail," explained Oneida County Sheriff's Capt. Tyler Young. "Maybe not having contact with certain people, the witnesses, or going to establishments that serve alcohol, things of that nature are common conditions."

Assembly Bill 638 would make the penalty for all bail jumping a Class B misdemeanor. Class B misdemeanors are punishable up to 90 days in jail and or a fine of up to $1,000. The bill would also only allow a defendant to be charged for bail jumping once per underlying charge.

Under current law, a defendant will be charged with a Class A misdemeanor for bail jumping if the underlying charge is a misdemeanor. A defendant will be charged with a Class H felony for bail jumping if the underlying charge is a felony.

Class A misdemeanors are punishable up to 9 months in jail and or a fine of up to $10,000; Class H felonies up to six years in prison and or a fine up to $10,000.

Young said those charged with bail jumping rarely receive the full extent of the penalty.

"If you get arrested for misdemeanor bail jumping you get booked into the jail and you get released again," said Young. "Felony bail jumping you get held in the jail until the judge gives you different bail conditions."

Young said defendants in Oneida County face bail jumping charges often. In 2019 so far, 195 people were charged with misdemeanor bail jumping and 129 people were charged with felony bail jumping. In 2018, 244 people were charged with misdemeanor bail jumping and 162 people were charged with felony bail jumping.

Young believes the new bill raises concerns.

"The possibility of lessing [sic] the consequence for not following the rules, I don't know where that's incentive or where we're going to see a decrease of people bail jumping," said Young.

Bill sponsor Rep. Shae Sortwell (R-Two Rivers) claims charging people for bail jumping with the verdict out on their underlying charge bypasses the justice system.

"Automatically get somebody for a felony even if they've not been convicted of the underlying crime, I don't agree with that," said Sortwell.

He believes bail jumping charges are just used as an easy way to keep criminals in jail.

"That's part of why they sometimes they don't even bother charging people on other charges because they've already got them on a felony and they're good with that," said Sortwell.

He believes someone should be convicted of a felony before a felony bail jumping charge is added.

In a press release, bill author Rep. David Crowley (D-Milwaukee) said "bail jumping, as it is written now, does not make any sense. It is supposed to be a tool to make people show up for court. However, it has morphed into a tool to force plea deals onto defendants, depriving them of their Constitutional right to a jury trial."

Young claims that bail jumping charges are necessary even if the secondary offence seems innocuous.

"For the opportunity not to be incarcerated they agreed to these terms," said Young. "A felony's a serious charged and there should be guarantees that they don't recommit."

Assembly Bill 638 was introduced Monday and referred to the committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety.

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KENOSHA - A Kenosha police officer wounded in a shootout last week while investigating a vehicle break-in has been released from a hospital, Wisconsin Department of Justice officials said Friday.

A release by the department's Division of Criminal Investigation identified the officer as Justin Pruett, who has been with the Kenosha police force for two years. He suffered a gunshot wound to the abdomen, the Kenosha News reported.

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NATH hosts e-cycling fundraiserSubmitted: 08/14/2020

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RHINELANDER - Traffic slowed to a stand-still on Highway 8 West out of Rhinelander but not because of any accident or construction.

NATH and The Good News Project partnered for the third year in a row to host an e-cycling fundraiser.

"There's still a huge line of cars waiting to drop off their things and that's been going on since before we opened at 8. It's been a very busy and very successful fundraiser," say Rick Covin, Board Member for the Northwoods Alliance for Temporary Housing.

NATH operates Frederick's Place in Rhinelander. This is their third year partnering with The Good News Project out of Wausau to host the electronics recycling event.

"We're having anyone from the area able to bring their electronics, even vacuum cleaners, stereo systems, computers, TVs, monitors, and for a small fee which is much less than you would have to pay at the dump," says Covin.

A portion of the proceeds will go toward helping fund the shelter's operation. COVID and other complications forced NATH to cancel many of their successful fundraising events, like the Harvest Hoedown normally scheduled for October.

"While our expenses have not gone down, even gone up some, our income, which is fundraising grants, and gifts, has gone down," says Covin.

If you didn't make it Friday, don't worry! You can stop by from 9 to noon Saturady.

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The campaign says Trump will highlight "Joe Biden's failures on jobs and the economy" during his two airport events.

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Hodag Lanes Closing Submitted: 08/14/2020

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RHINELANDER - After over 50 years of staying open, Hodag Lanes in Rhinelander has officially closed its doors.

"I mean COVID has hit the bowling business really, really hard no matter where your bowling center is," said Sharon Cline, bowling manager at Hodag Lanes.

And with the construction on Stevens Street, the bowling alley was in a tough situation.

"The construction was also a big play for us because with all the construction out here it was tough for anybody to get through," Cline said.

A lot of memories were created in the bowling alley for various citizens in the city.

"I probably started bowling in the early '80s on the Wednesday night women's league," said Sherri Schilleman, Rhinelander resident. "We had the 9 o'clock slot I believe back then."

For her and many families in Rhinelander, bowling was very popular.

"Bowling is actually a big sport in Rhinelander," said Schilleman. "And I think in the last couple of years bowling was actually starting to make another comeback. So it's sad because people are gonna have to find something else to do."

But Cline is hoping that this won't be the end for Hodag Lanes.

"It is costly to have a bowling center but we're just hoping again that we can get up and running again," said Cline. 

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Garland Nelson, of Braymer, is facing the death penalty in the deaths of 24-year-old Justin Diemel and 35-year-old Nicholas Diemel, of Shawano County, Wisconsin. They disappeared after visiting Nelson's farm in July 2019 and their burned remains were later found in Missouri and Nebraska.

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MILWAUKEE -  Milwaukee's former police chief, who was demoted to captain in part for using tear gas against protesters demonstrating over George Floyd's death, has chosen to retire instead of staying with the department. 

The city's Fire and Police Commission voted unanimously last week to demote Chief Alfonso Morales.

 Commissioners criticized how Morales handled multiple incidents involving Black people, including the arrest of Milwaukee Bucks player Sterling Brown. 

Speaking Wednesday on WTMJ-AM, Morales said he's retiring because if he returned as a captain it would be at a reduced salary and would negatively impact his pension payments. 

Morales also defended his record as chief. 

His attorney says he and Morales are exploring a range of legal action, including filing a claim for damages.

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