Wisconsin legislators are looking to reform current law governing the expungement of criminal records. Among other things, SB-39 would allow those convicted of crimes for which the maximum term of imprisonment is six years or less (including some felonies) to ask a judge to expunge their convictions even if they fail to do so at the time of sentencing, as is currently required. It would also allow those older than age 25 at the time of an offense to request expungement, and expressly provide that an expunged record cannot be considered a conviction for purposes of employment. The standard under present law would be carried forward, which lets judges grant expungement if they determine “that the person will benefit and society will not be harmed.”
The rationale for the bill, which has broad bipartisan support, is to give those who have made minor mistakes a fresh start, including supposedly enhanced employment opportunities. It is one of several current proposals to expand the availability of expungement.
Jessica Arp, the assistant news director and chief political reporter for News 3 Now and Channel3000.com, has been named the 2019 recipient of the Distinguished Wisconsin Watchdog Award. The award recognizes an individual’s extraordinary contributions to open government or investigative journalism in Wisconsin and is a highlight of the ninth annual Wisconsin Watchdog Awards reception and dinner, set for April 16. Arp has reported on Wisconsin politics for News 3 Now in Madison since 2007 and has received Edward R. Murrow, Wisconsin Broadcasters Association and Emmy awards for her coverage of Wisconsin elections. In addition to her reporting duties, Arp has been involved in leading efforts in investigative techniques, innovation and social media among the staff to help build the News 3 Now digital brand. “For more than a decade Jessica Arp has been holding public servants accountable,” Tom Bier, former vice president and general manager at News 3 Now, wrote in his nomination letter.
ByCoburn Dukehart (Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism) andEmily Hamer (Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism) |
Democratic Gov. Tony Evers was sworn into office Monday afternoon as Wisconsin’s 46th governor. See photos from the event by Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism photojournalists Coburn Dukehart and Emily Hamer.
Secrecy in government, compounded by court-ordered secrecy, gives rise to speculation and rumor. That never serves the public interest. A case involving Racine City Attorney Scott Letteney and Racine Alderperson Sandy Weidner illustrates that very well. Last August, the city attorney sought an ethics violation sanction against the alderperson for sharing allegedly confidential communications from his office with constituents. Letteney called for a closed meeting of the executive committee of the city council, at which he presented a PowerPoint of about 30 slides, mostly emails from Weidner to constituents.