Letter to the Editor: March 29, 2023
Letter to the Editor published in the March 29, 2023 issue of the Tomahawk Leader.
The following is a paid Letter to the Editor, per Tomahawk Leader policy.
Referendum is confusing, deliberately misleading
Referendums are important, but only if they clearly represent their objective. The three-question referendum on this April 4th’s ballot is misleading, confusing and partisan politics at its worst.
In Question 1, Republicans want to remove the current state standard that allows courts to impose reasonable conditions in order to release defendants, pre-trial, to protect the community from “serious bodily harm”, to replace it with the language of “serious harm” to be later defined by the legislature. Open-ended definitions are questionable and could result in unintended consequences.
In Question 2, according to the state Constitution, cash bail exists only to assure that a person will re-appear in court. The current system guarantees that the wealthy can buy their way out, until trial, while the indigent cannot. The poor often land up waiting behind bars, some times for extended periods, before any trial or conviction. Remember, the accused have not yet been convicted of a crime. Risk assessment is a much better mechanism to determine pre-trial detention.
Even the Wisconsin Council of Churches labels Question 3 as misleading. Welfare programs (Wisconsin Works, Food Share and Medicaid) exist to help people in poverty. Wisconsin Works and Food Share already have work requirements. Federal regulation prohibits work requirements as a condition of receiving Medicaid.
This referendum is confusing, deliberately misleading and deserves a “no” vote on all three questions.
Diana C. Smith