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Equal Protection – Statutory Ineligibility for Earned Release Program

State v. Gerald L. Lynch, Jr., 2006 WI App 231, PFR filed 11/6/06
For Lynch: David R. Karpe

Issue:  Whether statutory ineligibility for Earned Release, § 973.01(3g), for homicide by intoxicated use violates equal protection given eligibility for driving while intoxicated but not causing death or great bodily harm.

Holding:

¶18      Applying this standard, we conclude there is a rational basis for not allowing persons convicted of crimes under Wis. Stat. ch. 940 to participate in the earned release program. While one purpose of the earned release program is undoubtedly to encourage inmates to participate in treatment for substance abuse, it is also significant that the result of successful participation is a reduction in the time a convicted person must serve in confinement. [6] In effect, participation in the program is an opportunity to have a lesser punishment than that originally imposed. Excluding persons who have committed more serious crimes from this opportunity for reduced confinement is rationally related to the legitimate purpose of punishing more serious crimes more severely. A classification that treats persons differently, for purposes of participation in this program, based on whether their conduct has caused death or great bodily harm, is rationally related to the legitimate purpose of punishing more severely those persons who commit more serious crimes. It is rational to treat conduct that causes death or great bodily harm differently from conduct that does not have that result and to punish the former more severely.


 [6] Lynch does not contend that, if he cannot participate in the earned release program, he is denied all treatment for substance abuse.

Substantive due process challenge rejected for same reason, given that the tests are indistinct, ¶21.

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