Criminal justice leaders recommend changes for bond in Brown County

Criminal justice leaders in Brown County are trying to address a growing problem in the system.
Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 6:26 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 20, 2023 at 7:18 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Criminal justice leaders in Brown County are trying to address a growing problem in the system.

People are reoffending soon after the court sets their bond; some have 5 or 6 pending cases. It’s an issue key player on the criminal justice coordinating board are hoping to address with some new recommendations.

A tool used by Brown County court commissioners and judges to help them set someone’s bond in court is about to get an upgrade: it’s called a public safety assessment, or PSA.

The tool is supposed to help the court evaluate a person’s likelihood to reoffend and whether they are likely to show up to future hearings. While it includes a lot of factors, Brown County Supervisor Keith Deneys says it’s missing some relevant information, which could be inadvertently leading to another issue.

“We have judges that are seeing number an individual who have eight prior offenses where in years past that was not the situation,” said Deneys.

Deneys, along with several other key players in the criminal justice world, created a “work group” to look over the bond assessment tool and how it is applied. Those discussions have led to several recommendations, the need to update several court documents and more training.

“Not only for the judges, but for the whole judicial systems. What the PSA assessment means and how it can be utilized,” said Deneys.

When it comes to the PSA tool, there is a numerical ranking from 1 to 4. In simple terms the higher the number, the higher the bond suggestion

The work group recommends automatically raising the score level when someone with a pending case for a violent offense commits another violent offense.

“For example, if a scoring comes up with a level three, and includes THE ABOVE factor, it would be increased to a level four on the PSA,” said Deneys.

That same concept would apply to someone who has four or more previous violent offenses and when someone has three or more open cases.

“These are things that aren’t reflected in the PSA as of now,” said Deneys.

The work group is still working on one more suggestion it would make someone charged with the most serious offense, like murder, an automatic level 4 on the psa.

“What we found and in looking at the statistics, is it the statistics were actually skewed in us? So, how many times in your career as a reporter, haven’t you seen somebody who has absolutely no criminal record? Nothing. Suddenly, they committed a homicide. If you take that individual and run them through PSA, they’re going to come on as a level one, because they have no prior convictions. So, when you get a PSA, because of that is inappropriately reflected. So that’s why this is one of the changes that we decided that we would recommend, a serious offense on an equitable level four recommendation,” explained Deneys.

These recommendations are just that, the PSA is a tool to help the judges and court commissioners set bond, but it doesn’t take away their discretion.

Criminal justice leaders in Brown County are trying to address a growing problem with repeat offenders who are out on bond.