Wisconsin Legislature to vote on increasing parole transparency

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin’s parole commission would be forced to post its decisions online about who has been granted and denied parole under a Republican-authored bill up for final approval in the state Senate on Wednesday.

The Assembly passed a previous version of the bill with bipartisan support in March. But the Senate plans to make changes, which will require the Assembly to vote on it again before it heads to Gov. Tony Evers for his consideration.

Under the bill, the Department of Corrections would be required to post the names of individuals granted parole, denied parole or returned to prison following the revocation of parole. It would also have to post monthly and annual aggregate totals for each of those categories. Commission agendas currently don’t list parole applicants’ names.

Republicans criticized the commission after it decided to parole convicted murderer Douglas Balsewicz last year. He had served 25 years of an 80-year sentence for fatally stabbing his wife. Her family insisted that they weren’t notified of the decision until only a few days before he was set to be released.

The commission’s chairperson, John Tate, ultimately rescinded Balsewicz’s parole at Gov. Tony Evers request and resigned a few weeks later, again at the governor’s request.

Evers has not said whether he would sign the bill into law.