Wisconsin parole board revokes parole of convicted murderer

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The head of the Wisconsin Parole Board agreed on Friday to overturn the parole of a convicted murderer at the request of Democratic Gov. Tony Evers after the governor came under fire from the victim’s family and rival Republicans seeking to reverse it in November. Evers wrote a letter to the chairman of the Wisconsin Parole Board asking him Friday to reconsider his decision to parole Douglas Balsewicz. Balsewicz was convicted of murdering his wife Johanna in 1999. He has so far served less than 25 years of his 80-year sentence. Members of Johanna’s family met with the governor directly on Friday. Here is the letter Evers sent to parole board chairman John Tate: Chairman Tate: Contrary to the decision to pardon a person’s prior criminal offense – a process that falls solely to me as governor of this State – the decision to parole a person who is serving with the Department of Corrections rests solely with you as the chairman of the parole board. I understand that you recently approved the granting of parole to Mr. Douglas Balsewicz, before he served 25 years of an 80-year sentence for the murder of Mrs. Johanna Balsewicz, his future ex-wife. Johanna was at home with her two young children when Douglas Balsewicz stabbed her more than 40 times. This case is disturbing and horrifying, and the magnitude of this tragedy has reverberated through Johanna’s family, from which she still suffers the effects today. me. Today I had the opportunity to speak with them directly and heard firsthand the weight of grief, trauma and anxiety they carry every day. I have also heard of their concerns throughout this recent parole process, including a lack of transparency, accountability and notification, causing further trauma and suffering for Johanna’s family. It is in the light of this conversation that I write to you today. Although I do not have the power to reverse your decision in this matter, I must implore you to reconsider. I disagree with this decision and have considerable concerns about whether Johanna’s family had sufficient opportunity to express their memories, perspectives, and concerns before this decision was made. I often spoke about forgiveness and the power of redemption, values ​​that I know in Johanna’s family and that I both share. However, I also believe, and Wisconsin state law agrees, that the voices, experiences, and traumas of crime victims must weigh heavily in these conversations and deserve full and meaningful attention. Justice simply demands it. Our Constitution states that victims have the right to be heard. Our laws reiterate that victims have the right to directly contribute to the parole decision-making process. PAC Section 1.07(7) of the Wisconsin Administrative Code provides that you may rescind your decision if circumstances change. I implore you to reconsider this matter and, above all, to do so quickly and without delay. I understand that Douglas Balsewicz is due for release on or after May 17, 2022. Given this compressed timeline, I ask for your reconsideration to determine if this additional victim input changes your view of whether release would diminish the seriousness of this offense. Among the factors that need to be considered are whether the issues raised regarding the appropriate level of victim notification and opportunity to participate, particularly given the extremely violent nature of the offense and relative recency, constitute a change in circumstances warranting revocation at that time. If Douglas Balsewicz is free next week, the victim’s family may be deprived of any participation to the fullest extent justice requires. Johanna and Johanna’s family deserve this opportunity, and I urge you to reconsider immediately to make sure they do. Respectfully, Tony Evers, Governor Evers has appointed Tate as President. The governor does not have the power to overrule the commission’s decision. Asked about the decision by reporter Courtney Sisk on Thursday, the governor declined to comment. Balsewicz was to be paroled next week.

The head of the Wisconsin Parole Board agreed on Friday to overturn the parole of a convicted murderer at the request of Democratic Gov. Tony Evers after the governor came under fire from the victim’s family and rival Republicans seeking to reverse it in November.

Evers wrote a letter Friday to the chairman of the Wisconsin Parole Board asking him to reconsider his decision to release Douglas Balsewicz.

Balsewicz was convicted of murdering his wife Johanna in 1999. He has so far served less than 25 years of his 80-year sentence.

Members of Johanna’s family met with the governor directly on Friday.

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Here is the letter Evers sent to parole board chairman John Tate:

Douglas Balsewicz was convicted of murdering his wife Johanna in 1999.

President Tate:

Unlike the decision to pardon a person’s prior criminal offense – a process that is solely my responsibility as governor of this state – the decision to parole a person actively serving an eligible sentence with the Department of Human Services Corrections rests solely with you as the chairperson of the parole board.

If I understand correctly, you recently approved the parole of Mr. Douglas Balsewicz, before he served 25 years of an 80-year sentence for the murder of Mrs. Johanna Balsewicz, his future ex-wife. Johanna was at home with her two young children when Douglas Balsewicz stabbed her more than 40 times. This case is disturbing and horrific, and the magnitude of this tragedy reverberated through Johanna’s family, the effects of which she still suffers today.

In the past few days, members of Johanna’s immediate family have appealed to me directly, requesting a meeting with me and my staff. Today I had the opportunity to speak with them directly and heard firsthand the weight of grief, trauma and anxiety they carry every day. I have also heard of their concerns throughout this recent parole process, including a lack of transparency, accountability and notification, causing further trauma and suffering for Johanna’s family.

It is in the light of this conversation that I write to you today. Although I do not have the power to reverse your decision in this matter, I must implore you to reconsider.

I do not agree with this decision and have serious concerns about whether Johanna’s family had sufficient opportunity to express their memories, views and concerns before this decision was plug. I often spoke about forgiveness and the power of redemption, values ​​that I know in Johanna’s family and that I both share. However, I also believe, and Wisconsin state law agrees, that the voices, experiences, and traumas of crime victims must weigh heavily in these conversations and deserve full and meaningful attention. Justice simply demands it.

Our constitution says victims have the right to be heard. Our laws reiterate that victims have the right to directly contribute to the parole decision-making process. PAC Section 1.07(7) of the Wisconsin Administrative Code provides that you may rescind your decision if circumstances change. I implore you to reconsider this matter and, above all, to do so quickly and without delay.

I understand that Douglas Balsewicz is due for release on or after May 17, 2022. Given this compressed timeframe, I request your immediate and expeditious reconsideration to determine whether this additional victim input changes your view as to whether release would diminish the seriousness of this offense. . Among the factors that need to be considered are whether the issues raised regarding the appropriate level of victim notification and opportunity to participate, particularly given the extremely violent nature of the offense and of its relative recency, constitute a change of circumstances justifying revocation at this stage.

If Douglas Balsewicz is released next week, the victim’s family could be disenfranchised to the fullest extent justice requires. Johanna and Johanna’s family deserve this opportunity, and I urge you to reconsider immediately to make sure they do.

Respectfully,

Tony Evers, Governor

Evers named Tate as president. The governor does not have the power to overrule the commission’s decision.

Asked about the decision by reporter Courtney Sisk on Thursday, the governor declined to comment.

Balsewicz was to be paroled next week.

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