Victim Organizations Join Calls for Veto of Bail Bondsmen

Madison—Advocates for victims of domestic and sexual violence joined a growing group of individuals, leaders and organizations calling for the veto of a state budget provisions that would bring bail bondsmen to Wisconsin. While the groups note there are a number of positive items for victims in the budget, they say bail bondmen would put victims at risk and jeopardize resources that support victim restitution and services.

“Bail bondsmen would take Wisconsin in the wrong direction,” said Pennie Meyers, executive director of the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault (WCASA). “Victims who take the courageous step of coming forward to hold perpetrators accountable deserve to have a judge make the ultimate decision about offenders’ release, not a for-profit entity.”

“We know the pre-trial period is incredibly dangerous for victims of domestic violence, because of the risk of intimidation and retaliation,” said Patti Seger, executive director of End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin. “We want to create a system that prioritizes victim safety during this critical period. Bail bondsmen are a major impediment to that goal.”

The opposition to bail bondsmen has been nearly universal among Wisconsin law enforcement and court officials. Yesterday, Wisconsin Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen voiced his objections to the plan. In addition to the public safety concerns, he and others have cited the harmful effect bondsmen have on funding streams for crime victims.

“With bail bonds, victims and taxpayers lose out, while the bondsmen profits,” said Seger. “Because offenders don’t pay cash bond to the court, the state has little leverage with which to collect victim restitution and the fines that fund court costs and victim support services. If bail bonds are used in Wisconsin, it will result in offenders paying less money for victim services and other public expenses.”

“Victims of sexual assault experience so many financial costs for medical expenses, counseling and missed work—all on top of the trauma and psychological harm,” said Meyers. “Bail bondsmen would get paid and make a profit before victims recoup their losses. That is wrong.”

Both Seger and Meyers joined in concluding, “We appreciate and applaud the proactive steps Governor Walker and the Legislature have taken to support victims of domestic and sexual violence. We urge the Governor to continue that effort by preventing the use of bondsmen in Wisconsin.”


Selected Resources

Voting Guide for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Victim Advocates

This guide is meant to help advocates assist their clients with the voting process. With the passage of the Wisconsin photo ID voting law, there is a lot of confusion about who can vote and how they can vote.  The guide explains how survivors can register to vote and ensure they have the proper documentation to vote.   In this volatile political climate and budgetary climate, we need survivors’ voices and participation at the ballot box now more than ever.   

Hope. Vision. Future. A Plan for Providing Services to Domestic Violence Victims in Wisconsin

The Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Governor’s Council on Domestic Abuse has created a long-range plan for serving Domestic Abuse victims. This document includes an overview of Wisconsin Domestic Abuse Programs, including statistics, services, populations served, and a financial picture. Recommendations address the issues of Economic Justice, Financial Self- Sufficiency, Housing, Legal assistance and Primary Prevention.

2011-2012 Legislative Agenda
WCADV and WCASA Milwaukee Sick Pay Brief

Domestic and sexual violence take a tremendous toll on public health and safety in Milwaukee. This brief, filed by WCADV and WCASA, supports the Milwaukee Paid Sick Days Ordinance which permits victims paid leave to obtain services from these organizations.

2013-2014 Legislative Agenda
Changes to Wisconsin Unemployment Insurance for DV Victims - Dec 2009

WCADV Policy Development Coordinator, Tony Gibart, offers the following summary of how Wisconsin unemployment statutes have changed in response to The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

DCF Brochure about Domestic Violence and W-2

This brochure from the Department of Children and Families explains some of the resources and protections available to W-2 participants who are or were victims of domestic violence.  It is to be given to all W-2 applicants and participants. Hmong and Spanish versions are also available. 

Fact Sheets Related to Brookfield Shooting

These two fact sheets cover topics that were implicated by the shootings at a Brookfield, Wisconsin salon on Sunday, October 21, 2012.  They address (1) domestic violence and the workplace and (2) restraining orders and firearm surrender.