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Rep Duchow: Bail Reform Amendment Will Hold Judges’ ‘Feet to the Fire’

One of the authors of Wisconsin’s proposed constitutional amendments on bail reform doesn’t understand why opponents don’t want judges to have the full picture of people in their courtrooms.

Rep. Cindi Duchow, R-Delafield, told News Talk 1130 WISN’s Jay Weber Thursday that it doesn’t make sense to limit a judge to only considering whether someone is a flight risk when setting bail.

“This is common sense,” Duchow said. “Why wouldn’t we want a judge to look at your past criminal convictions and your danger to society when setting bail? Why wouldn’t we want the judge to have the full picture of the criminal when making these decisions? I don’t know why giving them all of the information is a bad idea.”

Duchow started working on the bail reform proposal back in 2017, but it gained momentum after Darrell Brooks Jr. killed six people and injured 60 others in his attack on the Waukesha Christmas Parade.

Duchow said a Milwaukee County judge released Brooks on $1,000 bail just days before the attack, despite his long criminal history.

“This will help us hold those Milwaukee judges’ feet to the fire,” Duchow added. “I am hoping that the elected officials in Milwaukee will step up and say to these judges ‘It’s time to be reasonable. We can’t let someone with 20 past convictions for beating-up someone back on the street.’”

Duchow’s amendment passed both the state Assembly and Senate last year, with support from both Republicans and Democrats. The amendment had a hearing this week in both an Assembly and Senate committee.

The hope is to vote again on the amendment in time to get it on the April ballot.

Duchow hopes to have Democratic support this time around as well.

“I know that, for sure, I’ve got a couple that are going to sign-on and vote with us next week,” Duchow said of Democrats. “They’re the ones who have the biggest problems. They’re the ones who should be asking for this.”

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