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Changes for CCAP? New Legislation is Introduced

CCAP, Wisconsin's online access to Circuit Court Records, may be altered if pending legislation passes. Introduced by Senator Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) in the Senate and Representative Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee) in the Assembly, the bill is designed to give persons who were wrongfully arrested a chance to clear their records. Currently, the records that can be accessed by the public include wrongful arrests and any charges, even if they are dropped. The legislation that was introduced wants to give the wrongfully arrested a chance to have that information removed from the CCAP website.

According to Rep. Goyke, "Too many people stop at the initial screen that says [a person is] charged with a crime, and that's it. And that's not an accurate picture." Similar legislation has been debated in the past, and failed. Notably, committees studied the possibility of removing wrongful arrests from CCAP most recently in 2010, but no recommendations were made.

The information would still be available, but not on CCAP. The legislation proposes a separate database that would be accessible for certain groups, such as landlords, court employees, journalists, attorneys, real-estate workers and others that may need to see the information. The County Clerk's office would also retain records of all arrests and charges that would be available to the public.

Some are concerned that the elimination of information from CCAP may fly in the face of first amendment 'freedom of information' rights, while others are leery that private companies could begin charging the public for the information that was once found for free on CCAP.

In addition to the proposed changes to CCAP, the legislation would also require landlords and employers to disclose that they used CCAP information when deciding to deny employment or housing or face a $1,000 fine.

It remains to be seen if this most recent iteration of the CCAP revamp will pass the Senate and Assembly. If so, it will alter how arrest information is made available to the public.

For more information, read the full text of the legislation that was introduced into the Senate.