the wording of the amendments a “yes” vote would make to our state constitution, you’d think that people accused of crimes in Wisconsin are somehow over-defended. You’d think that prosecutors were scraping by on impossibly low levels of funding while public defenders enjoyed the full cooperation of cops and routinely pushed the legal and ethical envelope without consequences. You’d think that criminal defendants and their attorneys were constantly dragging victims and their families through lengthy trials, rather than overwhelmingly opting for plea bargains. You’d think what passes for “due process” in a criminal jury trial placed the defense at an advantage, rather than increasing the odds that the defendant will get a tougher sentence or even face more serious charges—what lawyers call the “trial tax.” You’d think that our systems of prosecution, policing, and incarceration were somehow not reckless or vindictive enough.
Wisconsin voters should not only vote no on the ballot question, but also demand accountability from public figures and organizations in Wisconsin who have supported the measure. That includes Democratic and Republic state legislators, Democratic Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, dozens of sheriffs and DAs, and organizations that otherwise do righteous work, including the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault and the Wisconsin Nurses Association. Something incredibly weird has to be going on when such organizations make common cause with entities as profoundly vile as police unions.