A case currently before the United States Supreme Court (USCS) may ultimately influence whether Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to obtain DNA from all persons arrested for a felony may be instituted or not. This proposal is being characterized as "DNA-on-Arrest." If Gov. Walker's proposal is instituted, every individual in Wisconsin arrested on a felony charge including Internet crimes, violent crimes and various property crimes, would be required to submit a DNA sample to law enforcement.
A fundamental principle of criminal law holds that people should be able to understand what behavior is criminal and what is not in order to make informed decisions. Without clarity in the criminal code, individuals can unknowingly commit criminal acts without intending to do so. Unfortunately, sometimes criminal law is confusing due to nuance and sometimes it is confusing due to conflicting interpretations of the law.
One of the nation's most influential judges recently spoke out on the subject of incarceration-related sentencing. His position on the subject came to light in a concurrence written in relation to a case involving a defendant sentenced to 50 years for a sex crime.
A Temple University expert named Laurence Steinberg is convincingly advocating for reform of the juvenile justice system based on recent neurological research on adolescent brain development. His core argument is that young people who commit juvenile crime should be held accountable, but not necessarily in the ways the system attempts to do so currently.
Media coverage of the sex scandal involving former general David Petraeus has shed light on a little-understood crime: adultery. In most states adultery remains a private issue between married partners. But in others, the act of cheating on one's spouse is basically considered a sex crime. In some states, adultery is treated as a misdemeanor. But in five other states - Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Idaho, Michigan and Wisconsin, adultery is categorized as a felony.
Last week, the United States Supreme Court heard arguments in a wiretapping case that could affect untold numbers of Americans for years to come. Human rights advocates, journalists and attorneys concerned with the rights of those forced to mount a criminal defense or civil defense based on potentially illegal wiretapping evidence are seeking confirmation that they have standing to sue those who set up the wiretaps.
It has been observed that incarceration without available resources for rehabilitation tends to result in more crime when offenders leave prison walls. Without rehabilitation, life-skills training and other support, criminal offenders tend to become repeat offenders.
The Massachusetts state crime lab came under scrutiny recently after it was discovered that one of its scientists may have tainted evidence used in thousands of criminal cases. The scandal has shaken public confidence in criminal justice systems across the country.
Earlier this week, we began a discussion about one very distinct difference between Wisconsin and Minnesota. Even though both states have similar population demographics, geography and size, each addresses a specific drug issue very differently. Though each state's law enforcement treats every other kind of drug issue with striking similarity, Wisconsin arrests more than twice as many individuals per year for simple marijuana possession than Minnesota does.
Wisconsin's neighbor to the west is similar in population size, political, social and educational demographics and geography. Yet, law enforcement officers in Minnesota arrest half as many individuals for marijuana possession each year as those in Wisconsin. This simple reality raises two important questions: why does Wisconsin focus so much more on marijuana possession arrests than Minnesota, and is Wisconsin better or worse off as a result?