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Second Chance Bill moves forward

A Wisconsin Senate committee approved a bill Wednesday that seeks to move 17-year-old, first-time offenders into juvenile court.

Dubbed the “Second Chance Bill,” the measure would move 17-year-olds who do not commit a violent crime out of the adult court system, and would make a conviction less likely to affect future chances at employment, school and loans. The bill has received heavy support from the State Bar, the state public defender’s office and judges.

The Assembly version of the bill – sponsored by Rep. Garey Bies, R-Sister Bay – passed out of the Committee on Corrections in November.

On Wednesday, the Senate’s Committee on Transportation, Public Safety, and Veterans and Military Affairs – which is chaired by the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Jerry Petrowski, R-Marathon – voted 5-0 to send the bill to the full Senate.

If the bill becomes a law, it could go into effect by January 2015.

Derek Punches, an assistant to Petrowski, said the committee also passed an amendment that allocates $2.5 million to offset some costs that counties will have to incur by putting 17-year-olds back in the juvenile justice system. The bill is expected to cost counties up to $10 million more a year, total.

But Punches said supporters hope that costs beyond the allocation would be absorbed into the state’s next biennial budget.

Republican Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is against the bill. He said the current system works well.

About Eric Heisig

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