Wisconsin’s parole board will be forced to meet in public and post its decisions online under a Republican-crafted bill that was overwhelmingly approved by the state legislature on Wednesday.
Republicans are lashing out at the commission after it decided to parol convicted murderer Douglas Barcewitz last May. was serving 25 years of his 80-year sentence. Her family claimed they were not informed of the decision until days before he was released.
The decision made headlines in the gubernatorial election that summer. The chairman of the committee, John Tate, eventually revoked Balcewitz’s parole at the request of Governor Tony Evers, and resigned again a few weeks later at the governor’s request.
This bill removes the committee’s exemption from state public meeting laws and forces panels to hold meetings in public and post notices of meetings.
The Department of Corrections must post the names of individuals granted or denied parole, along with monthly and annual totals. The parole applicant’s name is not currently on the committee’s agenda.
The bill also guarantees that victims have the right to speak at parole hearings. State law already provides that guarantee, but the bill tightens the language.
Congress passed Bill 77-20. The bill is now going to the Senate.
Evers spokesperson Britt Coudabach did not immediately respond to a message asking whether the governor would support the bill.