Local lawmakers want repeat offenders to spend more time in prison

Posted at 5:25 PM, Feb 02, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-02 19:07:44-05

Two local lawmakers want to see stiffer penalties for juveniles who commit more than one violent crime. It's part of a package of bills to address repeat violent offenders, both adult and juvenile called the Victim Prevention Package.

Rep. Joe Sanfelippo (R-West Allis) is one of the lawmakers introducing the bills, along with Sen. Leah Vukmir (R-Wauwatosa). Sanfelippo says the criminal justice system needs to focus more on victims of crimes and stop trying to rehabilitate offenders.

"We have to be willing to recognize that no matter what you do, there are some offenders no matter what the age, a juvenile or an adult, there are some offenders that are never really going to be rehabilitated through an alternative program," said Sanfelippo.

Bianca Williams says a close family member of hers served time as a teenager for stealing cars. She doesn't believe stiffer penalties will stop the crimes from happening.

"He said he seen his friends do it and that's what pushed him to do it," she said.

Williams founded the Cry for Help Foundation that recently launched a campaign to stop the stolen car epidemic among teens by offering more job training and resources for them so they don't turn to crime.

"I think if we gave him some job skills or community service, something for him to do to keep him occupied, I think that would have avoided it," she said.

Out of the 464 carjackings that took place last year in Milwaukee, more than a third of them were committed by juveniles. 

Police recently arrested four teens who officers believe were connected to multiple carjackings in Milwaukee. All four teens had past criminal records.

Documents obtained from juvenile court show two of the teen boys had records dating back several years. One of the suspects at just 13 years old stole a man's car at gunpoint.

"Those are more than just numbers," said Sanfelippo. "Those are real people whose lives are devastated and affected in very serious ways and we need our criminal justice system to stop putting their primary focus on rehabilitating the offenders."

If passed, the bills would remove the three year max for offenders in juvenile prisons and increase the number of cases where judges could designate a juvenile as a serious offender, therefore sending them to prison. 

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