Credit: Brandon Raygo / The Cap Times

Bail jumping, medical bills, farming bankruptcies, coronavirus testing, reckless driving


Of note: This week we highlight stories from three former Wisconsin Watch interns on issues important to Wisconsin: a surge in bail jumping charges, often for people not committing new crimes, and faulty coronavirus testing kits that are slowing the state’s ability to rapidly detect new cases. 

Former interns Natalie Yahr, who now reports for the Cap Times, and Emily Hamer, a reporter for the Wisconsin State Journal, explored prosecutors’ heavy use of bail jumping charges in Wisconsin and efforts to reverse that trend. Former intern Madeline Heim, who now works at the Appleton Post-Crescent, revealed that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not fixed flaws in testing kits it sent to states including Wisconsin, which had one of the covid-19 cases detected so far in the United States.

Access to some stories listed in the Wisconsin Weekly roundup may be limited to subscribers of the news organizations that produced them. We urge our readers to consider supporting these important news outlets by subscribing. 

Thanks for reading!

To have the free Wisconsin Weekly newsletter (as well as story alerts and news about the Center) delivered straight to your inbox, sign up here! You can change your preferences at any time


Credit: Brandon Raygo / The Cap Times

Walk the line: How bail jumping became Wisconsin’s ‘most-charged crime’

The Cap Times — February 26, 2020

Wisconsin is one of eight states where a defendant doesn’t have to intentionally skip court to be criminally charged with “bail jumping,” which now tops the list of the state’s most common charges. Here, violating any condition of release can count as a new crime — even when the action in question, such as drinking or breaking curfew, isn’t otherwise a crime, Natalie Yahr reports.

Also read: ‘Insane leverage’: Jump in bail-jumping charges prompts calls for reform, reported by Emily Hamer.

What happens with medical bills when insurers don’t pay as promised?

Kaiser Health News — February 21, 2020 

Insurance companies often require patients to get insurers’ pre-approval of medical procedures — to ensure the companies will cover costs. But sometimes insurers revoke their decision to pay after the service is completed, leaving patients on the hook for the bill. A Beloit couple found out the hard way.

Cows are seen in a freestall barn in a dairy farm in northern Buffalo County, Wis. Credit: Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Watch

‘America’s Dairyland’: Wisconsin’s farmers see bleak future

The Guardian — February 23, 2020

Farming bankruptcies are fundamentally changing Wisconsin’s rural landscape as schools and small businesses collapse. Wisconsin is an avatar of a wider problem in the dairy industry. 

Wisconsin state lab still can’t test in-house for coronavirus as CDC scrambles to fix faulty test kits

Post Crescent — February 25, 2020

Nearly a month has passed since the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene received a kit from the Centers for Disease Control that was meant to allow it to test for coronavirus on site. After multiple state and local labs across the country sounded the alarm that the tests weren’t functioning properly, Wisconsin is still waiting for answers, Madeline Heim reports. 

Car deaths of black Wisconsinites surge because of Milwaukee’s reckless driving epidemic, report finds

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — February 26, 2020

Black Wisconsinites were once statistically less likely to be victims of fatal car crashes than other groups, but after just a five-year period, from 2013 to 2018, they are now killed at roughly twice the rate of white and Hispanic residents.

The byline "Wisconsin Watch" represents members of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism's editorial and public engagement and marketing staff.