Second Chance Bill

The Second Chance Alliance supports legislation (AB 378/SB 308) that would return first-time, non-violent 17-year-old offenders to the juvenile justice system.  The proposal includes a list of “violent offenses” that will remain as adult charges. The bulk of this list is drawn from existing statutes that define “violent offense.” It also keeps 17-year-olds who have previously been found delinquent in the adult system.

Second Chance Alliance members
Kids Forward
State Bar of Wisconsin
State Public Defender’s Office
Disability Rights Wisconsin
National Association of Social Workers—WI Chapter
National Council on Crime and Delinquency
Wisconsin Association for Homeless and Runaway Services
Wisconsin Association of Family and Children’s Agencies
Wisconsin Catholic Conference
Wisconsin Council of Churches
Wisconsin Family Ties

Second Chance legislation had large bipartisan support with 54 co-sponsors.  SB 308 had been recommended for passage unanimously by the Senate Transportation, Public Safety and Veterans and Military Affairs Committee (5-0) and AB 387 had been recommended for passage by the Assembly Corrections Committee (9-0).  In the end, the bill was not scheduled for a floor vote in either house due to cost concerns.  The Second Chance Alliance will continue to work with the Governor’s office and Department of Corrections to propose Second Chance Legislation in the 2015-2017 State Budget.

Resources and information related to the Second Chance Bill:

Second Chance Legislation


Press Releases


In the News


Second Chance Legislation

2015 Assembly Bill 378.  AB378 text (October 8, 2015).
2015 Senate Bill 280.  SB280 text (October 2, 2015).
Giving 17 Year Olds a Second Chance Makes Sense for Wisconsin because it….. Here are nine reasons that returning first-time, non-violent 17 year-olds to the juvenile system makes sense from a economic, moral, or safety perspective.


Returning 17-Year-Olds to the Juvenile Justice System: Reducing Crime and Saving Money. Find out how returning these youth to the juvenile system saves money (May 5, 2015).

Second Chance Legislation Introduction Press Conference (September 5, 2013).

Summary of Research on Effectiveness of Adult vs. Juvenile Court in Reducing Reoffending of Youthful Offenders (January 2014).

Frequently Asked Questions about the 2nd Chance Proposal. Learn more about the legislation from the 2nd Chance Alliance’s “Frequently Asked Questions About the 2nd Chance Proposal” memo. Just the FAQs!

Infographic: Juvenile Arrests in Wisconsin. There are very few violent crimes being committed by juveniles in Wisconsin. View the Infographic.

Age of Adult Jurisdiction by State. Wisconsin is one of 9 states that still treat 17-year-olds as adults when they get in trouble. View the map.



A column by Chris Rickert – Wisconsin State Journal asking how it is that partisan measures fly through the legislature while the bi-partisan 2nd Chance proposal faces challenges (October 22, 2015).

17-Year-Olds Should Be Tried in Juvenile Courts.  A simple set of facts from Tina Freiburger, UW-Milwaukee about the need to move youth back into the juvenile system (September 24, 2015).

Second Chance Bill is good policy for Wisconsin, column by former Gov. Tommy Thompson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (January 16, 2014).

Giving some youths a second chance, column by former Gov. Jim Doyle, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (January 16, 2014).

A Second Chance for Wisconsin Youngsters by Marc Levin. Read the blog post.

MacIver Institute Report. “Mandatory Sentencing 17 year-olds in Adult Court – Is There a Better Alternative for Wisconsin’s Youth and Taxpayers?”

Giving Teens a Second Chance. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Opinion by Patrick J. Fiedler (September 19, 2013). Read the article.


Press Releases

Mac Iver Institute’s Fact Check: Wisconsin Counties Association Memo.
The MacIver Institute has reviewed some of the state fiscal and juvenile arrest data to compare with county’s cost estimates as well as their indications that they will need more money for youth justice when 17 year-olds return to jurisdiction of the juvenile court (October 7, 2015). View the Fact Check sheet.

Lawmakers Introduce Justice Bill. Representative Hutton and Senator Petrowski announce circulation for co-sponsors of proposal to return 1st time, non-violent 17-year-olds to juvenile court. Wisconsin Legislature (September 9, 2015).
Read press release.

Mac Iver Institute Thanks Grover Norquist, Legislators for Discussing Important Criminal Justice Reforms. The Mac Iver Institute (April 1, 2015). Read press release.

State Bar Urges Inclusion of Second Chance Initiative in 2015 Budget (March 21, 2014). Read press release.

Second Chance Alliance Applauds Support of Two Former Governors and Approval of Bill by Senate Panel (January 15, 2014). Read press release.

Assembly Panel Unanimously Approves Second Chance Bill. Bipartisan Bill to Return Non-Violent, First-Time 17-Year-Old Offenders to Juvenile Court Continues to Gain Steam in Legislature (October 31, 2013). Read WCCF press release.

Alliance Applaud Introduction of Second Chance Bill. Bill enjoys strong bipartisan backing with 54 sponsors (September 25, 2013). Read the press release.

“2nd Chance” Bill Would Return Nonviolent, First-Time 17-Year-Old Offenders to the Juvenile Court System. A bipartisan group of legislators—with the support of legal groups, youth advocates, mental health professionals, and others—is circulating a bill that would return first-time, nonviolent 17-year-old offenders to the jurisdiction of the juvenile justice system (September 5, 2013). Read the press release.

e09.05.13 | News Conference: Legislators and Supporters to Unveil “Second Chance” Bill. View Press Conference Video



Non-Violent 17 Year Olds Need Options, Appleton Post-Crescent Editorial Board (October 26, 2015).

Give Nonviolent 17-year-olds a Second Chance, Racine Journal-Times Editorial Board (October 25, 2015).

Police chief: I support ‘Second Chance Bill’ – Support for Second Chance from Appleton Police Chief Todd Thomas (October 23, 2015).

Criminal Justice Reform is a Conservative Issue, by Grover Norquist, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (April 18, 2015).

Wisconsin Should Return 17-Year-Olds to Juvenile Court, by Robert Gagan, Green Bay Press Gazette (April 10, 2015).

Let’s Give 17-Year-Olds a Second Chance, by Patrick Fiedler, Wisconsin State Journal (April 5, 2015).

Legislature Should Return 17-Year-Olds to Juvenile Justice System, by Dane County Executive Joe Parisi, Capital Times (May 6, 2015).

Giving Kids A Second Chance—17-Year-Old Offenders Better Off in Juvenile System,
Channel 3 WISC Madison (September 9, 2013).

Our Views: Give More Teens Second Chances in Juvenile Court, Janesville Gazette (April 3, 2014).

Our View/On, Wisconsin: Second Chance Bill for Juveniles, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (March 16, 2014).

Chris Hardie: 17-Year-Olds Deserve Second Chance, LaCrosse Tribune (March 12, 2014).

Editorial: Treat 17-Year-Olds Charged with Non-Violent Crimes as Juveniles, Appleton Post-Crescent (December 11, 2013).

Second Chance Bill Has Merit, Kenosha News (November 22, 2013).

Wisconsin Should Try Children as Children, Capital Times (November 14, 2013).

Give Non-Violent Teens a Second Chance, Wisconsin State Journal (October 31, 2013).

Stop Charging Non-Violent 17-Year-Olds as Adults: Our View, Marshfield News Herald (September 12, 2013).


In the News

Legislative Proposal Would Keep 17-Year-Olds Out of Adult Court in Wisconsin.  Listen in to Wisconsin Public Radio (October 20, 2015).

Lawmakers: Keep 17 Year-Olds from Adult Court. (October 19, 2015).

Why A Group Of Conservatives Want 17 Year-Olds Dealt With in Juvenile Court. Right Wisconsin (October 19, 2015).

Non-Violent 17-Year-Old Criminals To Be Charged as Children Under Bi-partisan Plan. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (October 18, 2015).

Grover Norquist Urges Ciminal Justice Change to GOP Lawmakers, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (March 31, 2015).

Grover Norquist Urges Lawmakers to Embrace Cost-Saving Prison Reforms, Wisconsin State Journal (April 1, 2015).

Grover Norquist To Wisconsin: Stop Trying 17-Year-Olds In Adult Court, Wisconsin Public Radio (April 1, 2015). Listen to the story on WPR.

Wisconsin Bill That Would Return 17-Year-Olds to the Juvenile System Dies, but Proponents See Progress, Isthmus The Daily Page (March 25, 2014).

Bill to Send Some 17-Year-Olds Back Into Juvenile System Getting Support from Law Enforcement, WTAQ Green Bay (January 21, 2014).

Local Officials Praise Bill to Treat 17-Year-Old Offenders as Juveniles, Marshfield Daily Herald (January 16, 2014).

Former Governors Throw Support Behind Second Chance Bill, Wisconsin Public Radio (January 16, 2014).

Views Differ on Bill to Remove 17-Year-Old Criminal Offenders from Adult System, Appleton Post Crescent (November 14, 2013).

WI Legislation Suggests Everyone Deserves a “Second Chance,” Public News Service Wisconsin (November 1, 2013).

“Second Chance” Bill for 17-Year-Olds Moving through Legislature, WSAU Wausau (November 1, 2013).

Public Weighs In on Juvenile Offender Bill, Channel 27 WKOW Madison (October 31, 2013).

Bill to Return 17 Year-Olds to Juvenile Court Has Some Opposition, WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio (October 31, 2013).

Bill Looks to Keep Juvenile Offenders Out of System, The Badger Herald (October 3, 2013).

17 Year-Olds Accused of Non-Violent Crimes May No Longer Be Tried as Adults
Ch 12 WJFW Northwoods (October 3, 2013).

Bill Could Give Juveniles a Second Chance, Ch 18 WQOW Eau Claire (October 3, 2013).

Effort Aims to Give Teens a ‘Second Chance’, Eau Claire Leader Telegram, (September 28, 2013).

Wisconsin Considers Keeping Non-Violent Teen Offenders In Juvenile Court, Wisconsin Public Radio (September 6, 2013).

Bill Would Return Non-Violent 17-Year-Olds to Juvenile Justice System, Wisconsin State Journal (September 5, 2013).