Study Committee focuses on system needs, reforms, funding plans
Madison–Wisconsin State Senator Lena C. Taylor has been appointed chair of a special study committee on Criminal Justice Funding & Strategies by the Joint Legislative Council.
Taylor, who last session, chaired the Justice Reinvestment Committee concentrating on corrections reform, requested the committee be created to address systemic issues and reforms in the administration of justice.
“I am very happy that the Joint Legislative Council agreed to create this committee,” Taylor noted.
“With every bill affecting criminal penalties that passed the Legislature this session, the need for prosecutor funding, reform of our sentencing policies, and data-driven approaches that will reduce the growing cost of justice became apparent.
“This committee will take the key players from around the system and make recommendations for the future of criminal justice systems in our state.”
The committee is charged “…to study funding of the criminal justice system and strategies to adequately and sustainably fund the criminal justice system. The study shall include consideration of funding for prosecutors, defense attorneys, and courts and collection of fees and surcharges imposed on criminal defendants.” Nominations of members for the committee are being accepted and the committee is anticipated to be fully formed in July.
A preliminary analysis from Taylor’s office indicates that major components of the Justice system are spread over at least 12 different state agencies, offices, and boards across the three branches of government. Taylor stated that one of the first goals of the committee is to ascertain the scope of the whole system, where each draws it authority from, and what revenue and appropriations are committed to each.
“The justice system can no longer be treated like separate and distinct entities within government. Wisconsin must break down those “silos” across the system and encourage more coordination and cooperation. If not, we do a disservice to the taxpayers who are footing the bill for this core function of government. To start all that work, this committee will have to see the whole system’s structure and budgets as they are. From there we can make the best recommendations to improve the system.”
Taylor anticipates working with the Legislative Council staff and appointed committee members to create sub-committees for specialized study of these different areas. A primary goal for the committee is to have recommendations prepared for the 2011-13 budget deliberations.
Once the committee membership is named, persons interested can view all materials, notices, and meetings by visiting www.senatortaylor.com.