MADISON -- Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signed seven bills Monday that lawmakers hope will increase safety for victims of crime and abuse and hold offenders accountable.
The signing took place at the Department of Justice Crime Lab in Milwaukee, with all of the bills receiving broad bipartisan support. "When it comes to protecting the most vulnerable in our state, it's not a Republican or Democratic issue. It's just a good common sense issue," Walker said.
One measure signed into law would allow officers to electronically pull up juvenile court records, instead of requesting them by phone. It allows officers access to a teen's criminal history at the time they are stopped by police. "We had juveniles who, had you had access to the records, law enforcement would have known to treat differently and help better protect our community," Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Hollen, who appeared with Walker at Monday's signing said.
"What my bill does is coordinate the info. so that law enforcement can have the total picture on this juvenile when they pick up this kid when he's committed a crime," Senator Alberta Darling (R - River Hills) said.
It's the first step for Milwaukee's two main men leading law enforcement, who recently have made statements like these: "The juvenile justice system in the state of Wisconsin is irretrievably broken," Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke said. "You can see this coming, with their criminal past, this is ingrained human behavior," Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said.
Walker also signed into law a bill that creates more time for law enforcement to track down the abusers of children, stricter probation rules for those accused of domestic abuse and a measure requiring personal GPS tracking to those who violate restraining orders.
"This is a wonderful day not just for victims, but for everyone," Teri Jendusa-Nicolai, a domestic abuse victim said Monday. In 2004, her ex-husband, bailed out of jail, beat her and left her to die in a storage shed. "He thought, 'Hey, I'm not following the orders and I don't have to because nothing's happening to me.' Hopefully this will change things for a lot of people," Jendusa-Nicolai said.
Additionally, Walker signed a bill making it more costly to lie to a police officer, and another requiring a minimum prison sentence to convicted child predators. "It's about law enforcement getting the tools they need to make appropriate decisions in the state of Wisconsin," Walker said.