Bail Reform Amendment Goes to Wisconsin Voters

A constitutional amendment proposal to reform Wisconsin’s cash bail system is now headed to voters in April’s election.

Following the Republican-controlled Senate’s approval of the measure earlier this week, the GOP-dominated Assembly on Thursday passed the resolution. The measure passed 73-22, with 10 Democrats joining Republicans in support.

Under the amendment, judges would be able to consider the “totality of the circumstances” in setting bail— including the seriousness of the crime, previous convictions of the accused and the need to protect the community from serious harm. Currently, they can use only one factor: the likelihood a defendant will show up to his court date.

“Violent criminals should not be given unspoken approval by the system to repeatedly victimize our communities,” said Rep. Cindi Duchow (R-Delafield), who authored the proposed amendment. “Judges and law enforcement officers see the revolving door of arrests, low bail, release, and re-arrest, and they are asking for change.”

It takes passage in two consecutive legislative sessions to send a constitutional amendment question on to voters. Thursday’s vote marked the final passage needed to send the question to the voters.