Wisconsin crime victims don’t have lobbyists. They don’t have enough money to write checks to legislators or sponsor all-expense paid junkets to resorts. They lack the ability to produce glossy brochures or pay for pseudo-research to support their positions.
As a consequence, they can’t count on having out-of-state special interest legislation inserted into a budget bill in the dark of the night and passed, even though nearly all in Wisconsin oppose it.
As a result, bail monies that previously went to crime victims to pay for their losses will be taken out of their pockets and put in the pockets of out-of-state commercial bail bondsmen.
No existing problem will be made better nor will any Wisconsin community be safer as a result of this legislation. All that will change is a legislative-sanctioned transfer of money from Wisconsin crime victims to out-of-state commercial bail companies.
There was a time when our elected officials evened the playing field by putting Wisconsin victims’ interests and public safety ahead of out-of-state special interests. Another Legislature and a different governor outlawed commercial bail bondsmen and expanded the rights of crime victims.
The budget decisions of the current Legislature and governor in the days ahead will tell us much about the status of Wisconsin crime victims today.
-- Ben Kempinen, Madison, member MOSES/WISDOM, an interfaith organization