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Everyone Deserves Another Chance


You know Olivia Pope, but do you know Alexander Pope and his famous quote, “To err is human, to forgive is divine”?

I think one of the best things about America is that we are a nation of second chances.

Nobody is perfect and that is why if you’ve done a crime and you do your time, you should be given another chance to achieve the American Dream.

I became a lawyer to fight to ensure the law is applied to everyone equally.

But it didn’t take long to see just how rigged the system is against communities of color.

That’s what ultimately led me to run for office 13 years ago—to change the laws to seek justice for all.

Unfortunately, our laws make it hard for people to get another chance. That’s why this week; I introduced five bills called the Second Chance Act.

Each and every bill will help someone get another chance to be responsible and positively contribute to society.

1. Revocation by poverty – Wisconsin has the highest incarceration rate of black men in the nation. Nearly 90 percent of all inmates will ultimately be released on extended supervision or parole before their full sentence expires.

That’s because we want to give people who’ve made a mistake a second chance. But I don’t have to tell you that the transition from prison back to civilian life is challenging. One of those challenges is money.

My bill will ensure a person’s probation or parole isn’t revoked because of an inability to pay restitution or court fees.

2. Restoring the right to vote – In America, the right to vote is a fundamental part of our democracy. H.L. Mencken once said that the only cure for the evils of democracy is more democracy.

While some politicians might want to choose their voters, I believe we should encourage as much voting as possible in our elections.

When you commit a crime and go to prison, you lose some of your rights.

But if our corrections system trusts people on probation or parole to live outside of prison walls, we should also trust them to vote.

3. Collateral consequences of convictions – If you know anyone who has served time, you know that after they get out of prison, they continue to face consequences for their actions.

In many instances, even after a person completes their sentence, they may lose the ability to hold a professional license, obtain certain public benefits or being able to hunt, just to name a few.

Often, people don’t know when they plead guilty that not only will they serve time, but also they may lose other privileges in society. This bill requires a person to be informed of these consequences at the time they are charged with a crime.

Cleaning up CCAP – CCAP is a tremendous barrier for people trying to make good on their second chance.

Far too many people use the website to discriminate against people for housing, employment and many other instances. I have two bills that would remove information from CCAP.

4. The first would scrub your case history from CCAP if you were found not guilty, pardoned, acquitted or the case was dismissed.

5. The second bill would remove all financial cases if all fees and fines were paid and eight years has passed.

The Bible is full of over 100 examples of redemption and second chances. But for me, it’s not good enough to talk the talk. We all should walk the walk.

Hopefully, every one of these bills will pass and our laws will soon help others get the second chance they deserve.

To follow these and all the bills I am working on, join my email list by emailing me at Sen.Taylor@ legis.wi.gov, follow me on Facebook @SenLenaTaylor or on Twitter @ SenTaylor.