Assembly to take up bill increasing penalties for family members who aid criminalsWisconsin Legislature
-- Wisconsinites could no longer escape penalties for covering up their family’s crimes under a bill that’s up for a public hearing in Madison today.
MADISON - Wisconsinites could no longer escape penalties for covering up their family’s crimes under a bill that’s up for a public hearing in Madison today.
Police and prosecutors say it happens often – and it ties their hands. Assembly Democrat Peggy Krusick of Milwaukee has tried before to crack down on people who harbor family felons or destroy evidence in crimes. But her bill never went anywhere when Democrats were in charge. Now, with Republicans ruling the roost, her idea is getting a much friendlier reception. Assembly Criminal Justice Committee chairman Garey Bies of Sister Bay says relatives who protect criminals are making their communities less safe – and they should pay extra for it.
In some states, family accomplices get the same penalties as their offenders. But in Wisconsin, relatives can plant false evidence to throw the police off -- and the law cannot touch them. The Badger State’s harboring law is the most liberal in the nation. And it has allowed a number of notable criminals to go scot-free over the years. Shirley George of Waupaca has been pushing for a change ever since her grandson Joey was murdered in 2000 in the Milwaukee suburb of Oak Creek. Investigators said three suspects in that case were protected by relatives – including the son of former Milwaukee police union leader Brad DeBraska.