In Wisconsin You Shoot First, Ask Questions Later
Scott Walker’s Wisconsin is a state hardly recognizable to long-time residents. First was the assault on working people and their rights. Then came the relentless push to eliminate health care services for the poor.
Now Gov. Walker has embraced a “shoot first ask later” approach to criminal justice by signing a law that revives an archaic legal concept called the “castle doctrine.” The castle doctrine allows homeowners to legally kill intruders by creating a presumption of immunity for someone who kills or injures a person breaking into his or her home, vehicle, or workplace. Under those circumstances a judge must presume that the use of deadly force was necessary making prosecution for the act an impossibility.
The bill contains a narrow exception that prevents the presumption from applying if a shooter attacked someone he or she should have known was a public safety officer.
The bill passed with bi-partisan support, which may be the most troubling aspect of this story. The castle doctrine runs contrary to established notions of due process in favor of an individualized “liberty” incompatible with civilized society. Deadly force is always a legal justification when a person’s life is in danger. Wisconsin has now expanded those protections to unnecessary proportions.
Photo from gideon tsang via flickr.