In 2005, the Wisconsin State legislature passed legislation that addresses a number of issues relevant to the Commission's Charter Statement.   

The legislation includes:

  • Electronic Recording of Interrogations.  The new legislation first codifies the requirements of the Jerrell case, requiring electronic recording of interrogations with juvenile suspects.  In juvenile cases, failure to record when recording is feasible will result in suppression of evidence.  For adult cases, the legislation makes electronic recording statewide policy.  If law enforcement authorities fail to record adult interrogations when recording is feasible, juries will be instructed that electronic recording is statewide policy and that they can consider the failure to record in evaluating the evidence.  The legislation also provides that law enforcement authorities can apply for grant money to help finance the purchase and use of digital recording equipment.  

  • Eyewitness identification reform.

    • The new legislation requires each law enforcement agency in the state to adopt policies or guidelines on eyewitness identification procedures that are designed to minimize the risks of eyewitness error. 

    • After considerable study and after hearing from national experts and reviewing policies and guidelines from other jurisdictions, the Task Force adopted a set of model guidelines designed to ensure that police obtain the most reliable eyewitness identifications possible. The guidelines address issues such as proper selection of lineup or photospread fillers, proper instructions to witnesses, double-blind testing, and sequential presentation of suspects or photographs.

  • DNA preservation legislation. The new legislation clarifies the kinds of biological evidence that law enforcement agencies must retain as long as anyone remains in custody in connection with the offense for which the evidence was collected. The legislation reduces the amount of material law enforcement agencies must retain, and is designed to clarify and ease the burden on law enforcement agencies, while ensuring that necessary biological material is preserved. 

  • DNA testing legislation. The legislation 1) clarifies which laboratories are responsible for postconviction DNA testing, 2) clarifies who pays for the testing, and 3) requires that testing that might prove innocence shall be given priority by the laboratories. The legislation will also provide additional funding to the laboratories to enable them to give the postconviction DNA testing priority.

  • Statute of Limitations legislation. Under current law, when police develop a DNA profile of a sexual assault perpetrator but cannot find the person who matches that profile, the state may prosecute the perpetrator, without regard to the statute of limitations, whenever the state finds a person who matches the DNA profile of the perpetrator. The legislation allows the state also to prosecute the perpetrator for any other crimes committed at the same time and as part of the same course of conduct as the sexual assault, without regard to the statute of limitations, when the DNA profile of the perpetrator is matched to an individual.

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