Wisconsin’s April election is shaping up to be one of the most important spring elections in decades. Not only is there an election for the state Supreme Court that will decide whether the court retains its majority of constitutional conservatives or flip to an activist tool of leftists ideologues, but the Legislature has placed two important referendums on the ballot for the voters’ consideration.
The second statewide referendum on the April ballot is far more important. Article 1, Section 8(2) of Wisconsin’s Constitution currently prohibits judges from considering anything other than what it will take to ensure that a defendant will appear in court when setting a bail amount. The result of this prohibition has been that judges are hamstrung into granting low bail to defendants even when there is a glaring risk that the defendant will commit more carnage before their court date.
Way too many Wisconsinites have been victimized by criminals who were out of jail because of grossly low bail.
The referendum on the ballot asks the voters to amend the Constitution to allow judges to consider, “the totality of the circumstances, including the accused’s previous convictions for a violent crime, the probability that the accused will fail to appear, the need to protect the community from serious harm and prevent witness intimidation, and potential affirmative defenses” when setting bail for someone accused of a violent crime.
If the amendment passes, it does not mean that Wisconsin judges will use their newly granted latitude to impose appropriately high bail for defendants who have a history of habitual thuggery. There are far too many leftist judges on the bench who will continue to coddle crooks with low bail. If Wisconsinites want to keep more violent offenders off the streets for longer, they will have to get to the polls and elect better judges. But the good judges will use their new power to protect Wisconsinites with higher bail for violent criminals and Wisconsin will be better for their diligence.
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