Will Wrongfully Convicted Get Paid More
(AP) Legislation under debate at the Capitol would significantly increase compensation for those wrongly convicted and incarcerated. One of the bill's authors, Rep. Mark Pocan, says a guilty person gets more help from the state upon their release from prison than someone who was wrongly convicted. Pocan and Rep. Garey Bies are proposing payouts for exonerated prisoners from $5,000 for every year behind bars to a maximum $50,000 a year.
Wisconsin Innocence Project co-director Keith Findley says the Badger State is dead last on compensating those who are wrong convicted and imprisoned. The organization has used DNA to free 14 wrongly convicted prisoners since 1998. The bill has little chance of passage this session. But, Pocan's staff says it's well positioned for early consideration next session.
Holmen Postal Worker Pleads Guilty
(AP) A former Coulee Region postal worker has pleaded guilty in federal court to stealing 9,000 pieces of mail. Fifty-year-old Robert Ernstes, of Melrose, told a federal judge in Madison Thursday that he took the mail because ``times were tough, money was tight and bills were piling up.'' Ernstes worked at the downtown La Crosse post office. A Holmen man who mailed cards containing $2 bills to his grandchildren alerted authorities after the cards were delivered, but had been opened and were missing the bills. Ernstes admitted in court to taking money from envelopes he opened. The stolen mail has been held as evidence, but will now be released for delivery.
Kitchen Fire May Leave House A Total Loss
Cooking a pizza snack on the stove is what apparently started a fire that gutted a three-apartment house in La Crosse on Thursday.
While nobody was hurt in the afternoon fire, structural damage could make it impractical to fix the house. Owner Rick Hamilton got an assessment of damage from the assistant fire chief, hearing about severe damage to the walls and roof. One of the three units had been vacated recently. The current tenants were accounted for soon after the fire was reported.
Winter's Over, One Of 10 Least Snowy Ever In La Crosse
At the end of November, one weather service forecaster in La Crosse predicted that a string of very snowy winters would continue for this season.
Turns out, Jeff Boyne's prediction was wrong. Boyne says at this point, our 21 inches of snow for the season makes this one of the 10 least snowy winters ever for La Crosse. It's the driest winter in 12 years. A jet stream in Canada and thunderstorms to the south of us have helped maintain mild weather throughout the season, according to Jeff. And he jokes that if he had looked at the climate trend more closely in November, he might have seen the dry season coming.
Boyne says the deepest that the snow ever got this winter was seven inches in late January...coincidentally, around the time of La Crosse's Winter Rec Fest.
Postman Guilty Of Stealing Mail
A 50 year old postal worker has pleaded guilty to stealing items from people's mail he was supposed to deliver. 50 year old Robert Ernstes of Melrose made the plea Wednesday in a federal courtroom in Madison. Ernstes was caught last year after a postal customer said that money was missing several greeting cards he was sending to family members.
Police found that only Ernstes would have handled the cards. He was caught when a test piece of mail was sent in last year. Ernstes took the mail home with him......and a search of his car, home, and garage turned up some 9 thousand pieces of mail dating back to November, 2008. Ernstes faces 5 years in prison and hefty fines when sentenced in May.