Under a new Wisconsin law, police, prosecutors, and judges will get faster, electronic access to juvenile criminal records, which should result in more accountability for juvenile criminals, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Gov. Scott Walker signed the bill yesterday. State Sen. Alberta Darling said she sponsored the bill because law enforcement’s lack of access to juvenile records meant young criminals often got a ticket and were released to the streets although they had a prior record in the juvenile system and should have received harsher penalties for escalating offenses.
The law will provide judges, prosecutors, and others in the system access to juvenile records, giving them a more complete picture of a defendant. One unknown is how much it will cost to implement the law. Start-up costs of a website would be $100,000. If a system of user IDs and passwords were created, a full-time staffer would be needed to administer it. There would be an annual cost of $15,000 to maintain a new system. Darling saw the need for the law in the Journal Sentinel’s investigation into the case of Markus Evans, who faced few consequences as his violent behavior escalated. He was arrested at age 7 when he stabbed a teacher with a pencil. At 14, he shot his cousin in the back and spent 14 months in a juvenile facility. Two years later, he killed a 17-year-old girl who was walking home from school.