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"Joey's Law" would crack down on family members who hide criminal-relatives

UNDATED (WSAU-Wheeler News)  Wisconsinites could no longer protect relatives who commit serious crimes, under a bill that’s up for a public hearing tomorrow. The state Senate’s Public Safety Committee will take testimony at the Capitol on a bill that makes it a felony to hide wanted relatives, destroy evidence, and mislead police in their criminal investigations.

Shirley George of Waupaca is trying for the fifth time to get lawmakers to pass the measure, which she calls “Joey’s Law.” Her grandson Joey was murdered outside a tavern in Oak Creek in 2000, and authorities said three suspects were protected by relatives – including the son of former Milwaukee police union leader Brad DeBraska.

Former Assembly Democrat Peggy Krusick of Milwaukee used the sponsor the bill each session. She was defeated last fall, and Senate Republican Luther Olsen of Ripon is now taking up the cause. This time, victims of domestic violence would not be forced to rat on spouses who’ve been convicted of abuse in the past – thus opening themselves up to even more abuse. That was a sticking point last time. Milwaukee prosecutor Mark Williams opposes the exception. He says it’s a loophole that anyone could claim.