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WI Enacts Sex Predator Law

By Jan Starks

On May 26, 1994, Wisconsin Governor Tommy Thompson enacted a Sexual Predator Law, officially called 1993 Wisconsin Act 479. It was designed especially for two current prisoners: Gerald Turner, who in 1973 killed 9 year old Lisa French on Halloween night and Raymond Matzker, who in 1982, was convicted of five counts of enticing and sexually assaulting 8-12 year old boys. He was then the Director of the Winnebago Mental Health Institution under an assumed name.

The law originated because Turner was released on Mandatory Release (MR), but was later returned to prison from a Milwaukee half way house due to pressure applied on the DOC by the general public. Matzker was slated for release on June 7, 1994.

Matzker is the first person to be tried under the new law and is scheduled for trial on July 5, 1994. According to the new law, if a jury of 12 finds against him, he will be committed to prison in twelve month increments. After six months he can petition the court for release. If the court denies his petition, a jury trial will again be held in July, 1995. The law currently affects only 12 individuals.

The new law defines the following: "Mental Disorder: A congenital or acquired condition affecting the emotional or volitional capacity that predisposes a person to engage in acts of sexual violence. Sexually motivated: means that one of the purposes for an act is for the actor's sexual arousal or gratification. Sexually Violent offense: means any of the following. A) Any crime specified in § 940.225(1) or (2), 948.02(1) or (2), 948.025, 948.06 or 948.07. B) Any crime specified in § 940.01, 940.02 ,940.05, 940.06, 940.19(4) or (5), 940.30, 940.305, 940.31 or 943.10 that is determined, in a proceeding under 980.05(3)(b) to have been sexually motivated."

"Sexually violent person: A person who has been convicted of a sexually violent offense, has been adjudicated delinquent for a sexually violent offense, or has been found not guilty or not responsible for a sexually violent offense by reason of insanity or mental illness, defect or disease, and who is dangerous because he or she suffers from a mental disorder that makes it substantially probable that the person will engage in acts of sexual violence."

The law contains a variety of other areas and can be obtained by writing: Assembly Chief Clerk, Wisconsin State Capitol. Madison. WI. 53707.

[Editor's Note: In 1990 Washington state passed the Community Protection Act which allowed for the indefinite imprisonment of "sexual predators" after they finish their terms of imprisonment and without any new crimes being committed. The law was upheld by the state supreme court and is currently being challenged in federal court. We will report on developments challenging these laws.]

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