MADISON— The Joint Finance Committee will take action on a number of criminal justice initiatives in the budget, including adult sentencing and juvenile justice proposals, during an Executive Session at 1 p.m. on Thursday, June 10, in Room 412 of the State Capitol.
Earlier this year, Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers included in his state budget a proposal to raise the age at which a person can be criminally charged as an adult to 18. This policy change would keep children out of the adult corrections system. The ACLU has long advocated for criminal proceedings involving 17-year-olds to be handled exclusively under the purview of the Department of Children and Families, where other juvenile cases are managed.
“We need to make sure that 17-year-olds are not automatically tried in the adult system, which is not equipped to meet the needs of young people. Research has shown that children housed in adult jails or prisons are nine times more likely to commit suicide than those housed in juvenile facilities. They are also five times more likely to be sexually assaulted, and 34 times more likely to reoffend. If the ultimate goal is to rehabilitate the child, they should be kept within the juvenile system, which is better equipped to respond to their needs and create a positive change,” said Tomás Clasen, advocacy director of the ACLU of Wisconsin.