In an Assembly bill rolled out Wednesday, Wisconsin will be able to fill vacant positions in district attorney offices throughout the state in an effort to alleviate the current staffing shortage.
The legislation, introduced by Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, and Rep. Mark Born, R-Beaver Dam, will provide $4 million in funding to fill 54 vacant positions within district attorney offices throughout Wisconsin.
In a press release, Nygren said the legislation provided “real, structural” solutions to the longtime problem of staff shortages in state attorney offices.
“One of the biggest barriers counties face in criminal justice and justice for victims is the shortage of staffing in the district attorneys’ offices,” Nygren said. “This proposal will help address that shortage, bringing much needed resources to communities across Wisconsin.”
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Representatives throughout the state showed support for the bill and the aid it will bring to offices in their districts.
In a press release, Rep. Tyler August, R-Lake Geneva, said understaffing in attorney offices in his district have prevented the justice system from functioning the way it should.
“Understaffing in our district attorney’s offices can have massive impact on victim’s receiving the justice they deserve,” August said. “If you don’t have the manpower to take these cases to trial, many times it leads to higher numbers of plea deals and criminals receiving lighter sentences. Now is the time to start reversing this trend.”
Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, R-Clinton, said improvements in the Wisconsin economy and budget have allowed for better recruitment and retention of assistant and deputy attorneys. Filling these vacant positions are the next step in improving efforts to fight crime, she said.
These additional positions were approved as part of a larger bill that would combat re-offenses by individuals that are currently on probation or parole. In some cases, those individuals will not have that supervision revoked even though they are involved in a new violent offense. The bill would require the Wisconsin Department of Corrections to recommend revoking probation or parole in such cases.
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In an effort to combat re-offenses, the bill also requires the Department of Corrections to recommend revoking probation and parole in cases where individuals on probation or parole are found to be involved in a new violent offense.
District Attorney Zeke Wiedenfeld, from Walworth County, supported the bill. He thanked the Assembly for the bill and said filling vacant positions will only help “to prevent the physical, emotional, and financial losses” Wisconsin citizens and businesses experienced because of criminal behavior.
In recent weeks, Governor Walker has appointed district attorneys throughout the state. Walker appointed Daniel Diehn as Jackson County District Attorney Monday and Steven Anderson as Waushara County District Attorney in late January.
The bill now awaits a vote from the state Senate and final approval by Walker. If approved, the new positions will start July 1 of next year.