In the summer of even numbered years the Legislature establishes Interim Study Committees made up of legislators and members of the public who have experience in the field of the committee. The topics are suggested by members of the Legislature and approved by the Joint Legislative Council. There are three committees dealing with different areas of the criminal justice system with which the State Public Defender has an interest. We recommended several staff members for these committees and received one appointment for each. Here is a list of the committees and their mission statement.
Special Committee on Legal Interventions for Persons with Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias. The committee is directed to review and develop legislation to clarify the statutes regardingc guardianship, protective placement, involuntary commitment, and involuntary treatment as they apply to vulnerable adults with a dementia diagnosis who may or may not have a co-occurring psychiatric diagnosis. First Assistant Tom Reed, Milwaukee Trial, is the SPD representative on this committee.
Special Committee on Permanency for Young Children in the Child Welfare System. The committee is directed to study current law relating to permanency for children under the age of eight who are placed or at risk of being placed outside of their home, such as in foster care, to determine whether modifications could be made to reduce the length of time it takes to achieve permanency and to improve outcomes for these children. The committee shall also determine how current law may be modified to encourage the placement of younger children with a relative as an option for permanency or support. Incoming Attorney Manager Mark Gumz, Baraboo, is the SPD representative on the committee.
Special Committee on Supervised Release and Discharge of Sexually Violent Persons. The committee is directed to review the current process for granting supervised release and discharging persons who have been committed as sexually violent persons under ch. 980, Stats. The committee shall: determine what level of judicial input regarding the determination whether to grant a sexually violent person supervised release or discharge from a civil commitment under ch. 980 is appropriate; review the criteria for determining whether a person is fit for supervised release and determine whether this criteria should be modified; and review the criteria for determining whether a person should be discharged from his or her civil commitment to determine whether the criteria are appropriate. Attorney Tony Rios, Madison Trial, is the SPD representative on the committee.
Finally, the Special Committee on Review of Emergency Detention and Admission of Minors Under Chapter 51, which has been meeting since the summer of 2010, is getting close to having recommendations. While we do not have an official seat on the committee, Attorney Manager Dennis Purtell (Milwaukee Juvenile) and Attorney Nancy Vue (Madison Trial) have been attending the meetings and have had significant input on the recommendations.
If you have input or practical experiences with these topical areas that you are willing and able to share, please send me an e-mail. Information from staff attorneys on the way the practice of law works statewide is often the most helpful input during these policy discussions.