State v. Oakley, 629 N.W.2d 200 (Wis. 2001)

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Book Chapter

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Kimberly M. Mutcherson




Cambridge University Press




On its face, State v. Oakley is a simple but egregious case about child support and reproductive rights. David Oakley, a father of nine, failed to pay the entire amount of child support he owed his children, and the State of Wisconsin charged Oakley with nine counts of intentionally refusing to provide child support under Wisconsin Statute 948.22(2). At the sentencing hearing in the Circuit Court, the Judge sentenced Oakley to prison on the first count, imposed and stayed an eight-year term on two other counts, and imposed a five-year term of probation consecutive to his incarceration. This was a reduced sentence because Oakley’s lawyer convinced the judge that Oakley would not be able to support his family from prison. Most controversially, the Judge conditioned Oakley’s probation on not having any additional children, unless, the court stated, it could be shown that “he is meeting the needs of his other children and can meet the needs of this one.” On appeal, Oakley argued that the condition of probation ordering him not to father additional children violated the Fourteenth Amendment and the Constitution of the State of Wisconsin. Deciding against Oakley, the appeals court found the ban on Oakley’s reproduction “entirely related to his fathering of children he is not inclined to support.” The court held that a condition of probation may impinge on a fundamental constitutional right as long as “the condition is not overly broad and is reasonably related to the defendant’s rehabilitation.”

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