Thanksgiving is coming up later this week. From a criminal defense perspective, this is noteworthy for at least two reasons. The first reason is that the Wisconsin State Patrol and local law enforcement agencies will likely be increasing OWI enforcement this week. Many holidays are associated with increases in drunk driving, and law enforcement agencies increase patrols accordingly.
In recent months, we have discussed the often-ignored problem of racism within the criminal justice system. Events like those in Ferguson, Missouri have reminded us that many communities in the United States have a strained relationship with law enforcement agencies, and those communities are often predominantly low-income and African-American.
We have previously written about the many problems in our legal system that lead to wrongful conviction, as well as the difficulties that wrongfully convicted inmates often face after being exonerated. Wisconsin is among 30 states (plus Washington, D.C.) to offer compensation to wrongfully convicted individuals. But of these states, Wisconsin’s compensation is among the lowest offered and can be difficult to get.
Many believe that the pursuit of justice must be tempered with mercy. This is a difficult line to walk in the criminal justice system, because judges do not always know the motives of defendants or their capacity for reform. Moreover, courtrooms in many Wisconsin cities need to shuffle cases through quickly, leaving little time for discussion or explanation.