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Miscalculated release date didn’t invalidate ch. 980 petition

State v. Kenneth William Jaworski, 2016AP5, District 1, 4/18/17 (not recommended for publication); case activity (including briefs)

The state filed a ch. 980 commitment petition against Jaworski shortly before the mandatory release (MR) date the Department of Corrections had calculated for him. But DOC later realized it had miscalculated Jaworski’s MR date, which was actually about two months earlier than the date the petition was filed. DOC’s miscalculation (whether negligent or, as Jaworski argues, made in “bad faith”) doesn’t mean the petition was untimely because a ch. 980 petition may be filed anytime before the person is released or discharged from his predicate sexual offense sentences.

¶14     In State v. Stanley, we interpreted Wis. Stat. § 980.02(1m) as providing two means for the State to file a timely Wis. Stat. ch. 980 commitment petition: (1) either before the date of the offender’s mandatory release; or (2) before the offender’s discharge date. See Stanley, 2014 WI App 89, ¶23, 356 Wis. 2d 268, 853 N.W.2d 600. We explained the difference between the terms “release” and “discharge”:

Based on the usage of the words “released” and “discharged” in the case law and in closely related statutes and regulations, we conclude that the words have the following common and accepted legal meanings in the context of a criminal sentence: “released” means to free a person from confinement in prison, and “discharged” means to free a person from DOC custody status upon completion of the criminal sentence. A person serving a prison sentence is “confined” until he or she is “released” from prison, and the person remains in DOC “custody status” until he or she is “discharged” upon completion of the criminal sentence. Hence, the use of the word “discharge” in a person’s maximum “discharge” date corresponds to its use in Wis. Stat. § 980.02(1m), and in both usages the meaning is the completion of the criminal sentence.

Stanley, 356 Wis. 2d 268, ¶22. Accordingly, we concluded that the statute requires the State to file a Wis. Stat. ch. 980 petition “either before the person is freed from confinement in prison or before the person’s entire sentence is completed.” See Stanley, 356 Wis. 2d 268, ¶23.

¶15     Here, the focus of Jaworski’s appeal is the DOC’s calculation of his mandatory release date. Jaworski ignores the portion of the statute that allows the State to file its petition before the discharge date. Jaworski received lengthy sentences in both his Racine County and Milwaukee County cases. His discharge date for the Racine County sexual assault convictions is November 27, 2030. His discharge date for the Milwaukee County conviction is March 11, 2031. The State filed its petition on March 24, 2006. Clearly, the State was within the statutory deadlines when it filed the Wis. Stat. ch. 980 petition. ….

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