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Legislation Would Keep Some Juvenile Offenders to Behind Bars Longer in Wisconsin

GOP lawmakers say serious juvenile offenders should get more time,

Some GOP lawmakers in Wisconsin are looking to get tougher on juvenile offenders. Right now, the state can sentence them to no longer than three year behind bars, but a bill circulating in Madison right now would allow juvenile offenders to be locked up until age 25. While some Republican leaders say the move is necessary to curtail crime, some Democrats prefer a different approach.

Republican Representative Joe Sanfelippo says that after years of focusing on the perpetrators of crime, it’s now time to think about the victims – and potential victims. Sanfelippo says that’s why he has coauthored legislation that would allow Wisconsin to lock up serious juvenile offenders for longer than three years.

“I happen to believe that caring about kids sometimes involves tough love. And if you don’t take the time to adequately teach a child right from wrong they’re going to continue to do wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong until the day when they commit a really bad wrong and boom, you drop the hammer on them and now they’re in jail for the rest of their life because they murdered somebody.

Sanfelippo is fear-mongering, according to Democratic Assemblyman Evan Goyke.

“I feel cursed to give a damn  about the kids that are up in Lincoln Hills and I’m not scared of you and I’m not scared of the saber rattling the more likely that I’m going to get murdered…this is outrageous. You’re scaring people and this is real,” Goyke says.

No vote took place on Tuesday – people just had a chance to weigh-in on the proposal to toughen sentencing for some young offenders.

Republican Senator Leah Vukmir co-authored the legislation with Sanfelippo. She says over the last five years crime across the country has dropped, but not in Wisconsin. Vukmir says murders here are up by 72 percent, robberies by 13 percent, and vehicle thefts have jumped 50 percent.

She says young people are responsible for the increases.

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