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Some Crime Victims Will No Longer Have to Testify Before
Offenders During Probation Revocation Hearings
MADISON — As part of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen and Corrections Secretary Ed Wall have announced procedural changes for taking victim/witness testimony during probation revocation hearings.
“This procedural change is a good example of what happens when we partner with others in the criminal justice system to improve how we treat and protect victims,” Attorney General Van Hollen said. “With greater implementation of this administrative rule, we will be able to meet the needs of victims when they feel most vulnerable.”
“One of the primary missions of the Department of Corrections is to protect the public, which includes victims,” said Secretary Wall. “Our goal is that this collaborative action by our agencies will result in victims not being placed in a situation where they feel re-victimized.”
When defendants are placed on probation, parole or extended supervision, they must agree to comply with the conditions of their supervision. One of those conditions is not to commit another crime while under supervision. When an agent believes an offender has committed a crime, the agent must present evidence to an administrative law judge at a probation revocation hearing to prove the probation violation. Crime victims are often called upon to testify at the probation revocation hearing, which typically takes place in small rooms at local jails as offenders are almost always incarcerated at the time of the hearings. Consequently, victims testify in close proximity to those who harmed them, often without any law enforcement or security personnel present.
The Departments of Justice and Corrections partnered to create a training video for Division of Community Corrections agents that explains the Wisconsin Administrative Rule allowing victims and witnesses to provide testimony outside of the presence of offenders when certain criteria are met. While the rule has been in existence for a number of years, it has not been widely used. The 30-minute video explains the rule and how it can be implemented. All agents will be required to view the video as part of their training.
More information about the rights of and services for crime victims is available here.