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Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen Announces Commitment of Joseph Mitchell to Treatment Under Chapter 980


MADISON – Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen announced today that Joseph Mitchell, age 41, was committed in Dane County Circuit Court under Wisconsin’s civil commitment law (Chapter 980, Wis. Stats.) following a three-day jury trial in Madison.  Dane County Circuit Court Judge Richard G. Niess presided over the case.


Chapter 980 of the Wisconsin Statutes relates to the control, care and treatment of sexually violent persons.  Under Wisconsin law, a person may be subject to a civil commitment when the person has been convicted of a sexually violent offense, has a mental disorder, and is dangerous to others because the mental disorder makes it likely he or she will commit further acts of sexual violence.  A civil commitment is defined in Wisconsin law as commitment to the custody and care of the Department of Health Services for control, care, and treatment until the person is no longer considered sexually violent.


According to the Department of Justice petition, in 1997 Mitchell was convicted in Dane County of two counts of Second Degree Sexual Assault/Use of Force.  Mitchell pled no contest and was sentenced to the Wisconsin State Prison System for 10 years on each count, concurrent.  Mitchell was also convicted in 1993 of second degree sexual assault and also entered a plea of no contest.


Mitchell was scheduled to be discharged from the Department of Corrections on April 19, 2010.  After the commitment petition was filed by the state he was instead transferred to secure custody in a Department of Health Services institution while awaiting resolution of the court proceedings.


Assistant Attorney General Rebecca Weise represented the state in this case.