Wisconsin lawmakers clash over proposals on cash bail

March 17, 2023

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MADISON (WKOW) — Lawmakers and community organizers met Thursday to voice their opinions on the current cash bail system.

Democratic lawmakers are working to eliminate cash bail in Wisconsin, while Republicans are supporting an amendment to make it harder for people to get out of jail on bail.

A representative of EXPO — Ex-Incarcerated People Organizing — said he fears what could happen if the amendment passes, saying some people are being detained simply because they’re poor.

“This legislation would only escalate an already overwhelmed, understaffed criminal legal system we have today,” Jerome Dillard said.

Democrats are working to propose legislation to reduce the use of cash bail, instead replacing it with a dynamic risk assessment system to determine if someone should be released.

The alternative is unlikely to pass through the Republican-controlled legislature.

If the amendment is approved by a majority of voters in the upcoming election, it will allow judges to consider the criminal histories of people accused of violent crimes.

Wisconsinites will have a chance to weigh in on the cash bail expansion amendment in the Spring Election on April 4.