Bill would expand victim advocacy rights

Support would make offenders more likely brought to justice, lawmaker says
Bill would expand victim advocacy rights

A new bill circulating in the Wisconsin state Legislature would allow victims of sexual assault to be accompanied by a trained advocate at any step during the criminal justice process.

The legislation’s author, Rep. Jim Steineke, a Republican from Kaukauna, said sex offenders are more likely to be brought to justice when an advocate is available to assist the victims.

An advocate is a trained individual providing emotional comfort for victims and guiding them through the legal process. Current law bars an advocate from certain activities such as joining victims in meeting with police officers or medical personnel.

At least 11 states have passed similar laws.

Gov. Scott Walker has proposed $4 million in his next biennial budget to pay for grants to assist victims.