Benjamin Franklin was known to have said, the only things certain in life are death and taxes. So, while we believed the return of commercial bail to Wisconsin was certain, alas it was not to be, yet. The amendment to the Wisconsin State Budget that would have returned the use of commercial bail bonds back to the State was stripped from the budget by Gov. Walker. Reinstituting commercial bail would have resulted in improved appearance rates, millions of dollars in annual revenues generated from license fees, premium taxes and bond forfeiture revenue and more than 1000 new jobs.
Gov. Scott Walker stated in his Veto Message, " …this (bail) provision..does not provide sufficient time to properly evaluate the proposal and to plan for appropriate regulation of this industry prior to the date of implementation." The governor’s statement went on to say, "I agree with the intent of the provision to reduce local government administrative costs and ensure defendants show for court dates."
It has been more than thirty years since commercial bail was unceremoniously eliminated in Wisconsin through an amendment to the budget introduced in 1979. There was no debate, no discussion and no planning for a criminal justice system without the most effective release option available to secure a defendant appears for court; a bail bond. By the beginning of 1980 Wisconsin was using a monolithic cash bond system carrying no guarantee of appearance; the court would make a lot money at the expense of victims of crime and public safety.
Gov. Walker has acknowledged, "the commercial bail bonds industry works well in many other states" and inferred that separate legislation reintroducing bail bonds to Wisconsin would be a worthwhile effort. The American Bail Coalition will continue efforts to return commercial bail to Wisconsin as an option for ensuring a defendant appears in court. Down but not beaten.