Monday, May 25, 2020

Ways to pursue release in the face of COVID-19.

This is a mass email we sent to hundreds of incarcerated people last week to help them self-advocate for release in the face of COVID-19. We've been demanding such releases since mid-march, but the Governor's office has been incredibly callous and entirely unhelpful.

If you have an incarcerated loved one, or want to advocate for any particular individual's release, this email describes the means we've been able to find to attempt that. None of these methods have proven successful at all, let alone reliable.

Our hope is that many people pursuing them, and many more holding up the specific lives Governor Evers is unwilling to even consider releasing--including elderly people, immune compromised people, people who have mere months left on their sentence, or who have done years longer than their sentencing judges likely intended--we can compel Tony Evers to finally start caring, at all, about people who live different lives than him, or most of his staff.

Organizing Update May 21- by Ben Turk

How FFUP works: Peg is intake, Ben is outreach. We're both unpaid volunteers stretched beyond our capacity. We need your help to make the workflow manageable. If you need a response and individual help regarding conditions, health issues, abusive staff, etc contact Peg, by paper mail.
FFUP c/o Peg Swan 29631 Wild Rose Drive Blue River, WI 53518
If you want something posted and sent out to reporters, contact Ben by replying here. Indicate if you want your message published anonymously or with your name. I am going to focus on mass mailings, so if you ask questions, I likely will not give an individual response, but will include any info I can in the next mass mailing.

This week, I’m going to focus on releases due to COVID-19, but first: We've created a hotline for people with symptoms who aren't getting tested. If you or someone you know is in that situation, call 414-207-9691. A volunteer will ask a series of questions and pass your answers on. We've put funds on that #, so anyone can call.
I'll address Kerby (act355) lawsuits (which are on hold) raids and lockdowns, etc in the next mass mailing. The rest of this email is about three things you or your family can do to pursue emergency release:

Open Letter to Governor Evers' Office

Below is an email sent to Governor Evers' policy advisor, Katie Domina. Katie has told us that she is the go-to person in the Governor's administration for prison related issues, but every time we've gone to her, we get the kind of non-answers we've gotten about our clemency waiver requests.

Tony Evers is the governor of the state with some of the hottest incarceration hotspots in the world, as well as the greatest racial disparities, and some of the most restrictive and abusive criminal legal policies and practices. Wisconsin is a dramatic outlier, and the Governor needs to have a specialist in the role of addressing these problems. He must appoint someone to take a singular focus on the prison system, someone with expertise and direct experience.

Everyone touched by the Wisconsin's horrific prison system should demand nothing less.

Hello Katie,

We are aware that the governor created pardon / clemency criteria that exclude all currently incarcerated people. Those criteria are unacceptable, and the governor can change them with the stroke of a pen. What I want to know is what is happening with the clemency waiver requests that we've sent to his office. Do those requests ever touch his desk, or do you file or discard them because they do not fit his heartless criteria?

We have also published the requests, in two batches and have been holding biweekly online press conferences (on April 21, May 5, and May 19) where we share stories and testimony from the people who you all are disregarding as unworthy of even consideration for release. Journalists have been attending these events and writing about the governor's failure to take ethical action. See articles in The Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin State Journal, and The Wisconsin Examiner.

It has been obvious from the start of your administration that you all in the governors office do not care about criminalized people. Wisconsin has some of the highest incarceration rates and racial disparities in prisons nation-wide. National-level prisoner advocates, and people held on interstate transfers have told us that conditions in Wisconsin prisons are more restrictive, racist, and abusive than most states.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

First hand stories of COVID in WI prisons: April 16-May 13

A PDF version of this archive is available here:

ANON (transcribed paper letter sent out April 16, 2020)

Re: They don’t care, I mean really
I have to be careful how I word this, because I don’t want to get this person in trouble and lose a inside look at how these racist SOBs operate. But I learned this info this week. I can’t be more specific or they’ll review the cameras and determine where I went this week, and can clearly see me conversing with this high ranking person.
    1) Since this Covid-19 thing broke out there has been 7 officers confirmed to have it at CCI. I say this because this person treated all 7 of them!
    2) Once these 7 officers were confirmed to have it, they video sur these officers came in contact with for 14 days. Including: supervisors, nurses, teachers, doctors, cooks, food service workers, etc. But not inmates! Inmates they have come in contact with are never told; they have come in contact with infected staff. While the above staff are closely monitored, given a mask, and tested for the virus.
    3) They also keep undercounting the number of staff who have been infected here. This must be exposed.
    4) There are currently dozens of nurses, officers, and teachers wearing masks.

Friday, May 15, 2020

Prison Lockdowns Exacerbate Pandemic- COVID Compassion Campaign pt 3


Prison Lockdowns Exacerbate Pandemic

On Tuesday, May 19, at 1pm, Forum for Understanding Prisons (FFUP) will present our third COVID Compassion Campaign online press conference.This conference will focus on Columbia Correctional Institution (CCI) a facility notorious for lockdowns, racist staff, and violent instability.

Our speakers will talk about how CCI's restrictive lockdown and security measures that function as collective punishment,

Thursday, April 30, 2020

Take Action for Prisoners Against COVID-19!

This is an organized list of eight ways to participate in the struggle against COVID-19 in the DOC.

1. Contact Governor Evers. 
Governor Tony Evers
PO Box 7863
Madison, WI 53707                 
Call him: (608) 266-1212
If VM full, try his MKE office- 414-227-4344
Email him:,
Make your message personal, or share our mass email.  

2. Join or amplify COVID Compassion Campaign.
We are helping incarcerated people demand that Governor Evers expand his clemency and pardon criteria to include considering releasing people. We're helping people file clemency waivers. We send them in batches and post them here: batch 1, batch 2.
We've also held regular online press conferences, which are on our YouTube channel.
Organizers have also planned various pressure actions  designed with social distancing in mind to stay safe from COVID-19.
Follow FFUP on Facebook for updates. Videos of actions are here, if you don't use Facebook.

3. Contact DOC Secretary Kevin Carr and other prison officials
Email Kevin-
Call DOC and ask for the Secretary's office- 608-240-5000
DAI Administrator Makda Fessahaye- 608-240-5100

covid compassion campaign batch two

Vistorino Benitez

Victorino Benitez #441381(Bd 1960, 59,TIS, Hispanic)

Victorino is at an age that puts him at heightened risk of complications if he contracts Covid 19.

   Jarvis Booker 534394 FLCI (bd 1980, 39 y.o. Black)
Jarvis Booker

Jarvis has pre-existing conditions (asthma and type 2 diabetes). He has served five years and is aware that what he had done was wrong. He is at an age and living with health conditions that put him in a higher risk for experiencing complications, should he contract covid 19

Samuel Cannon 394467 WSPF ( Bd 1987, 33 y.o.,Native American)
Samuel Cannon

"It is impossible to practice social distancing. Staff here have tested positive for covid -19 and co- workers have not done 14 day required quarantine.We have no access to hand sanitizer (security)and little access to soap, shower and change of clothes.No staff members are wearing the proper PPE. CDC, WHO, Dr Fouci, president Trump ordered to wear face masks/PPE at the facility.
I take medication for Anxiety and bi-polar. I get about 10 years left to serve in incarceration. Back home I've got support of family members,  and counselors and therapists and treatment specialists who have 20 years experience."

Eugene Crisler

Eugene Crisler #438690, Bd 198535 y.o.,Black.) 
Eugene is serving a two year sentence and has been diagnosed with lupus, which puts him at an elevated risk of complications if he tests positive for Covid 19. He will be released in September 2020,it makes no sense to hold him now.

Floyd E Crowley 163604l OSCI (BD1956, 63 y.o./ OL in since 1988, black)
Floyd Crowley

"I believe that at 64 years old with and enlarged prostate and high blood pressure and the sentence I am serving qualify me for extraordinary circumstances. However , in serving consecutive sentences and request to have them ran concurrently instead of consecutively will make me eligible for parole now instead of 2-14-2022."  He includes several documents attesting to his successful rehabilitation. He has become a model prisoner, known for his hard work and reliability.
Alphonso Crump
Alphonso Crump 249193 OSCI ( Bd 1952, 67 y.o. Black; in since 1992)
Received life with parole, was intoxicated on the night he committed the crime that got him there, he has since completely abstained from using any intoxicants and is a devoted follower of god.

          Adam D. Fields 385005 FLCI ( Bd 1984, 36y.o. White)
I am an at risk person for covid -19 due to the fact that I have asthma and if I were to get the virus I would have a better chance of surviving it with top- notch heath care outside of prisons . Also , I am seeking clemency because I would like to seek employment within the WI DOC so people can see through me that you can survive the world without seeking a life of crime.

Thomas Eake 637512.SCI;  (BD 1959, 60 y.o.;White)
Thomas is afraid that because he is guilty of a sex offence he will not be considered 
seriously for release. He is of the age where the corona virus could kill him. He has 
degenerative disc disease which cause him more pain daily and has 8 metal screws 
in his back and needs more surgery. But the main gist of his writing is his story:
"My crime was entirely out of character for me and an anomaly in my behavior. In 
January 2013 my wife of 26 years passed away unexpectedly and I was not emotionally equipped to deal with the loss for months. I spiraled into deep depression and for the first time in my life I pushed friends and family away and turned to alcohol to cope.
At this time I made the biggest mistake of my life. My victim was 16 years old at the
time of the offence. She was the daughter of my next door neighbor. She would 
often come to my house in order to escape the physical and emotional abuse that 
was happening at her home. It was at this time I began a sexual relationship with her. Although it was consensual, I understand it was wrong and as an adult, I should have prevented it. "

Stephen Fisher #324015, OSCI (BD 1952, 67 y.o.,in since 1996 , OL, White)
Stephen Fischer
 Stephen is at an age that puts him at heightened risk of complications if he contracts Covid 19. He has served 14 of his 18 year sentence and has been diagnosed with cancer.

James Foote 196400 SCI (Bd 1970, 49 y.o., in since 1998 OL, Black)
James Foote

James has served 20 years of his sentence, and has several diagnoses that put him in the high risk category for contracting the virus.

Donald C Goll 111244 OSCI ( Bd 1959,60y.o.;OL white)
Donald Goll
Donald has served 41 years for a crime he committed when he was 19 years old. Because of his age, he is extremely at risk of having severe complications if he contracts covid-19.

Ray Anthony Hampton

Ray Anthony Hampton Jr #601062; FLCI (Bd 1991,28, Black)
"The circumstance regarding the warrant of waiver of the governor's eligibility rules is due to a heart - condition I have. I was born with this particular condition, which is called 'mitro-valve-prolapse'. It's a condition that effects my immune system and typically gives me shortness of breath."  The corona virus "has already reached multiple WI institutions and has me living in fear. The fact that my children are living through a pandemic without me there for help, support and protection, also  has me living in fear. Knowing that I am innocent of the crime I sit in prison for today makes it issue enough on top of the possibility of the covid virus have contact with my heart"

Anthony P Heard

 Anthony P Heard 487345 WSPF (Bd 1988, 31, Black)
          Anthony was young and in poor mental health when he committed the crimes that landed him in prison. He is still young and has the support of his sister who is a federal corrections officer in Tennessee, with whom he would be staying if he were released from prison.

Dennis Lee Hohol 436152,( Bd 1944, 76 y.o. white 
Although Dennis makes a big point of his innocence in his waiver application, given his age, he is also at extreme risk of having severe complications if he contracts covid-19.
Dennis Lee Hohol

Derrick Howard #261702 ( Bd 1976, 43 y.o. OL,in since 1998; Black)

Derrick Howard


Derrick has sleep apnea, which when gone untreated can affect one’s decision making ability as well as memory retention. Since being in prison and using a C-pap machine, he has noticed an increase in his ability to function. He has served almost half of his total sentence, and has a strong desire to improve his community.

George L Jansen

George L Jansen 153167 OSCI ( Bd 191946,73 y.o. OL in since 1996)
Has spent 22 years in prison/Lists many maladies:has hearing aides, had stroke and was sent to Mercy Hospital , has cataracts in both eyes. has had surgery on his nerves, has vertigo, kidney disease. His advanced age should be extraordinary condition enough for this man to be released, the conditions make his release imperative. 
Michael Dean Johnson

Michael  Dean Johnson #411838,OSCI (Bd 1956, 63y.o.White TIS)
Mr Johnson was convicted of multiple drunk driving incidents. He is a good candidate for release because of his age and , as the documents he provides here show, because he has been unanimously recommended for sentence modification by the PRC Board. He has worked very hard to rehabilitate himself and all indications show he is ready. There is no reason to hold this many and expose him to the risk the virus poses to all in our prisons.

Dakota Jourdan
Dakota Jordan
#590375 WSPF (Bd1995,25 Native American)

Dakota was stealing to support an addiction and is beyond his substance abuse issues at this point. Given the Coronavirus situation, social distancing is impossible to achieve at WSPF, and in addition to this, he has witnessed people not quarantining properly and potentially exposing more people.

Claude  Anil Komorowki
Claude Anil Komorowki 193111, OCI (BD1968;52y.o.,white)
"during this covid -18 pandemic my family is sick and all alone and needs me, My mother is 74 years old , my step- father is 76 years old and dying of diabetes. I am in danger of getting covid-19 in prison because I  cannot keep safe with inmates and staff in so close proximity. I am 52 and in poor health. "
Troy A Laufenberg

Troy Alan Laufenberg
#594897 NLCI (Bd 1992, 27y.o. White)

Troy lives with asthma which puts him at heightened risk of complications if he contracts Covid 19.

Jorge Meddina-Petino 668526 NLCI (Bd1953, 56 y.o.Hispanic)
Jorge Medina- Petino

Jorge is at an age and living with health conditions that put him in a higher risk for experiencing complications, should he contract covid 19. He has served 2 years of his sentence.

Anthony Gage Meyers
#520337 OSCI ( Bd 1989, 30 White)
Anthony Gage Meyer

Sentenced on 1st degree reckless homicide, the details of his case reveal that this was essentially self-defense, he responded to a beating he was receiving with lethal force against an opponent much bigger than him and who was relentlessly attacking him. Since the outbreak, Anthony has had respiratory issues and has been in HSU, however, he is unable to properly socially distance while being held at Oshkosh CI.

Justin Silvio Meyer 
justin Silvio Meyer
#399202 NLCI ( Bd 1983, 36, Hispanic)

Justin is at high risk of Covid 19 complications, as he has been diagnosed with sleep apnea and requires the use of a cpap machine. He has served 10 years of his sentence.

Lamondre Moore 326060 RGCI  (BD 1979, 41 y.o. Black, in since 1996 . OL)
LaMongre Moore

Lamonde writes about his innocence and the fact that he was burned over 90% of his body. He asked Governor Evers to seriously consider him for release.

Gerald Mark Niemi

Gerald Mark Niemi 242217 WSPF ( BD 1966, 53 y.o., white)
was convicted in 2012  of forgery and operating a vehicle without owner’s consent. He writes that he weighs 240 pounds, has high blood pressure and thyroid issues and severe obstructive sleep apnea,  He is in minimum and goes outside the fence everyday and is eligible for work release. All these factors and the fact that his health puts him at great risk of death if he gets the corona virus, makes his release vital.

Joshua Durand Patton 631885 OCI ( Bd 1995, 25 y.o.,Black
Joshua Durand Patton

   Joshua has less than a year until mandatory release 3 16 21. Joshua's  main concern is for his family, who are having problems with the virus. He needs to be with them. Added to this is the benefit of avoiding the unnecessary risk of getting the virus the prison poses, and the fact that releasing those close to their mandated release date would help alleviate the overcrowding.

Olivas Porfirio 556627 ( Bd1970, 49y.o. Hispanic)
Olivas Pofirio
Olivas is at an age where complications of Covid 19 are high, in addition to this he has several respiratory issues such as asthma and sleep apnea.
Jario E Ramos #346154 OSCI(Bd 1975, 44y.o.,OL, Hispanic)
Jarios E Ramos
Jario has served 22 years and 6 months and is assessed as a low risk re-offender. Because of the conditions at Oshkosh, he is reasonably concerned about the risk of contracting Covid 19.

Anthony Rivera 348956, OSCI ( Bd1984, 35y.o. Hispanic)
Anthony Rivera
I was diagnosed with "Tranverse melitis", a spinal inflammation that effects my autoimmune system. There is no cure. The DOC is not equipped to care for my health properly. With the corona 19 pandemic I am vulnerable as I am currently in a barracks environment with 144 beds.Bunk beds are only 2 feet apart from each other making it impossible to practice social distancing. I'm currently eligible for ERP as of 3 29 20 and I ask that if I am not granted executive clemency that I at minimum I be allowed to enter the ERP immediately so that I can earn my release.This will allow me to social distance properly and have access to a hospital that can treat me and my condition properly. OSCI went from zero cases to 10 ( ten)confirmed cases in just one week .I'm currently at risk and these conditions are life threatening. 
Patrick William Rogers 238229 OSCI ( BD 1955,65 y.o. white)
Patrick WIlliam Rogers

#238229 OSCI
65 years old
Patrick’s age puts him at high risk for Covid 19 complications, he is on revocation right now, but has not committed a new crime since his first conviction.

Ron Schilling 32219 KMCI ( Bd1951, 68 y,o,, White)
Ron schilling
Ron Schilling has been in prison for 45 years and has been eligible for parole since 1987. He is a tragic example of the deterioration of what was once a system that did rehabilitate, for he has multiple degrees, got while there were Pell grants, is a fine musician, writer and poet. He was given parole by Lenard Wells and that was whisked away when Wells lost his job for political reasons. He has endured 50 plus parole hearings. He maintains a positive outlook despite all this and has always been model for those around him and his friends out here. He writes here of the details of his case but the main point is that he is frail and elderly. He recently had a near fatal infection after surgery and if there is any justice left in this system , now is the time to let this man be free at last.

Peter Scott Schmidt

Peter Scott Schmidt  114449, OCI ( Bd 1962, 58 y.o.,white)
Peter is an elder male with chronic respiratory issues. He uses an inhaler for his asthma. His mandatory release date is September 13, 2020- that is 4 months from this writing. To release him now and avoid further exposure is imperative.

Jeffry Allen Schultz 344012 ( Bd 1980, 40 y.o. White, OL)
Jeffrey Schulz
McNaughton Corr Cntr; 8500 Rainbow Road; Lake Tomahawk WI 54539
"There is a pandemic going on out there over COVID-19. With my preexisting sinus issues I catch respiratory illnesses easily. This virus spreads easily and is killing people at an alarming rate. Once it gets in here it would not be a matter of if , But when I would be infected. I sit here and watch the death toll rise every day and I fear for my family and myself. There is also  evidence of .an 80%sterility rate for men survivors.  We cannot practice social distancing in here and the only PPE we have been issued is 2 cloth masks, Once it gets in here it will spread like wild fire. The DOC does not have the resources to deal with this, so an in infection has a higher risk of proving fatal. I did not survive that night just to die in prison of a disease,when this situation can easily and safely be avoided."


Christopher Shannon Shingleton 
Christopher D Singleton
#380088 SCI ( Bd1980, 39 y.o., white)
39 years old
Christoper has served 21 years of his 25 year sentence, and has asthma. Given this, he is at higher risk of elevated issues if he contracts covid-19.

Henry Spivery

Henry T Spivery 625059, OSCI ( BD 1957, 62 y.o., Black)
Glaucoma, knee surgery, mental health issues, would live with a female friend in Milwaukee. This inmate needed help completing this. He has competency issues and has a Federal Habeas petition pending as his conduct did not rise to the charges he was convicted of as a matter of law.

Trony Shumpert

Troney Shumpert 561205 OSCI ( Bd 1965, 54,Black)
Troney has strong support from his family and is only currently incarcerated because of a technical rule violation (ie, a crimeless revocation).

James L Steinhoff #369868 OSCI ( Bd 1961, 58 y.o. in since 1998, OL. NA)
James steinhoff
James only has 2 years left on his sentence and has been diagnosed with sleep apnea, which can cause complications in people who’ve contracted Covid 19. Additionally, because of his age, he is extremely at risk of having severe complications if he contracts covid-19.

Glenn L Taylor
Glen Taylor
#508765, WSPF ( Bd 1989, 31, Black),
Glenn has served 8 of 12 years and has asthma, which puts him at an elevated risk of complications if he tests positive for Covid 19.

Jose A Vega #141592 NLCI( Bd 1958, 61 Y.o. hispanic )
Jose Vega

Jose has a number of heart conditions, as well as asthma and diabetes, all of this in conjunction with his age put him at high risk of complications if he were to contract Covid 19.
Briean Rommel Vance
Briean Rommel Vance
#490438 WSPF BD 1992,28 y.o. Black)
Briean was a victim of circumstance, he was unable to find work and unable to provide for his family. He was young and running short on options, so he took a note demanding money to a financial institution. No one was harmed and he did not intend to harm anyone. He has concerns about his health, since prisoners are not afforded appropriate medical care. What he really wants to do is provide for his family and start his life over.
#393553 WSP Bd 1985,34y.o. black)
Latrez is concerned about his safety and ability to protect himself from Covid 19, due to the confirmed cases in the county where his prison is located and the fact that he interacts with staff who come and go every day.

Rashun Woods

Rayshun D Woods #390831 WCI (Bd 1986, 34 y.o.Black)

Rayshun has chronic lung issues that will lead to complications and escalated risk for him contracting Covid 19.

Noah Yang 425783. JCI (Bd 1984, 35 y.o., Asian)
" This covid-19 virus and my pre-existing infirmities makes me and extraordinary circumstance. As a kid I was diagnosed with asthma, IN mu early twenties I was diagnosed with diabetes. Now i am challenged with serious seasonal allergy problems. Currently I wait to see a provider for future solutions. My immune system is weaker that most. Id covid were to reach JCI and I were to get it, within the months left of my sentence,I could be facing a life and death situation.  In addition, I am non-violent, under a year, and incarcerated on a  crimeless revocation.

Jammie Yerks 229862 WSPF (Bd 1970, 50 y.o. OL in since 1991))
Jammie Yerks
  Jammie presents many documents to prove his innocence and he asks the governor to consider these as he attests he had nothing to do with the crime. But more to the point is his health:  "I have constant issues with  high blood pressure and a heart mur-mur -'abnormal heart beat  that's hereditary." His mother suffered from it her whole life and passed away in 2015. Further he is scared of the prison conditions: " I am writing you also about the dangerous and unsanitary high risk conditions in this environment. There are multiple correctional officers her that have stated that have been in close contact with individuals who have tested positive for the corona virus and have  never been placed on the state and world -wide mandated 14 to 30 day Quarantine. Nor does these possibly infected officers wear masks or gloves." He has filed complaints"which has lead nowhere what so
 ever, other than retaliation against me."

Ways to pursue release in the face of COVID-19.

This is a mass email we sent to hundreds of incarcerated people last week to help them self-advocate for release in the face of COVID-19. We...