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Sunday, February 03, 2008

Getting The Facts Straight

by capper

There is a lot of hullaballoo coming from the right lately about a bill that has been introduced into the state legislature, 2007 Senate Bill 401. Everyone from local squawkers Mark Belling and Charlie Sykes to local bloggers Patrick Dorwin and the Game have been screaming at anyone who can't avoid them about how bad this bill is and how it favors 17 year old thugs. Belling even goes as far as using one of his racist rants about the bill.

Never did it cross their minds on why this bill was introduced, or why it has support from members of both parties. They just want to use it to try to hammer Senator Lena Taylor, who is running against their favorite, Scott Walker (even though he promised not to run again).

They make claims, like Game did in a comment thread on a previous posting, that it coddles 17 year old murders:
Hey, they caught the people who murdered the Miller exec....they are 17.Maybe we can get Taylor elected so she can raise our taxes so young "men" like this are able to go through children's court and have some meetings and hugs before they are let back out on the street.

Unfortunately for Game, facts are indeed facts, and the facts don't back up their smear job.

John, a reader, provided a link to the bill itself (pdf). If you read the bill, which apparently none of these smearers on the right bothered to do, you will notice on the bottom of page 10, there in Section 28, it reads:

SECTION 28. 165.83 (1) (c) 2. of the statutes is amended to read: 165.83 (1)
(c) 2. An act that is committed by a person who has attained the ageof 10 but who has not attained the age of 17 18 and that would be a felony or misdemeanor if committed by an adult.

In other words, any minor charged with certain crimes, like murder, would still be sent to adult court. They would not receive any special considerations for the more severe crimes. Thus, Game, Sykes, Belling and the rest are presenting false arguments. I won't call it lying per se, as that I doubt any of them bothered to actually read the bill. They just took what they thought was a damning talking point, and ran with it. Unfortunately for them, they are totally wrong.

Although they should apologize to Senator Taylor and to anyone that they shared this falsehood with, I doubt it will happen.

But not being satisfied on just proving the right wing slanderers wrong, I also looked further and found this article. It discusses the need for this bill:
Young criminals coming out of Wisconsin's prisons are more likely to reoffend and end up back behind bars than their adult counterparts, according to a report released Friday.

A study by the state Legislative Audit Bureau found that 17-year-old offenders released from prison in 2002 and 2003 were reincarcerated at more than double the rate of adult offenders released those years. They were reincarcerated at nearly twice the rate of offenders released from juvenile institutions.

The report also found that less than half of the roughly 10,500 17-year-olds sentenced to probation between 2002 and 2006 completed it successfully.

The study highlights questions about whether 17-year-olds are too young to serve time in the adult prison system. The findings reflect national research that shows young offenders tend to reoffend when treated as adults, said Shay Bilchik, a former Florida prosecutor who heads the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform at Georgetown University.

The article goes on to mention that Wisconsin is not the only state that is considering changing the law to the same means. It also points out that a similar bill was attempted in 2005, but failed because the counties hadn't budgeted for the change.

I guess the right will have to find another lie to try to use to protect Scott Walker.

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