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Modification — New Factor — Rehabilitation — Truth-in-Sentencing

State v. Dawn M. Champion, 2002 WI App 267, PFR filed 12/2/02
For Champion: Patricia L. Arreazola

Issue: Whether the defendant’s early completion of all available rehabilitation programs is a new factor justifying reduction of the confinement portion of her sentence.

Holding:

¶13. Our review of the legislative history of 1997 Wis. Act 283 demonstrates that the legislature intended something inconsistent with Champion’s proposal. That is, the legislature intended that truth-in-sentencing create certainty as to the duration of confinement at the time a sentence is imposed, something fundamentally inconsistent with the open-ended availability of sentence modification based on post-sentencing factors relating to rehabilitation.

¶17. Accordingly, we conclude that the legislature, with the limited statutory exceptions noted above, intended that truth-in-sentencing inmates serve every day of the confinement term imposed. Regardless whether Champion’s proposed expansion of “new factor” law is good or bad policy, it must fail because it would seriously undermine the legislature’s intent to create certainty in the length of confinement at the time of sentencing. It is not reasonable that the legislature would intend to provide both the defendant and the public with certainty regarding confinement and at the same time permit the courts to undo that certainty with the change in sentence modification law proposed by Champion. At the same time, we stress that this opinion should not be read as suggesting the legislature has undone “new factor” case law. Nothing in this opinion affects a defendant’s right to seek sentence modification under existing “new factor” law.

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