Monday, July 8, 2013


Forum for Understanding Prisons :
Mission statement
SEPTEMBER 2013 newsletter!!
June 2013 newsletter
march 2013 newsletter
contact info
donating and how funds are spent


Help us get the job done- bring our brothers and sisters home
2009 Rally in front of Parole commission

1) We Give voice to prisoners though blogs and website. Hundreds of prisoners have their stories, art and writings on our web and blogs. See list of blogs by subject and prisoner's name

We need to Put pressure on DOC and congress to release prisoners who are eligible and ready for parole. WI is spending $20 to 60 thousand a year each on 4000 plus “Old Law” prisoners: those convicted before the truth in sentencing law in 1991. This law required future sentences to be restructured and served in full. The DOC policy is to hold each of the “Old law” prisoners for as long as possible even though all are eligible for release and many committed their crimes 30 or more years ago and are now different men.
here is survey, pamphlet and petition from 2010- help us update- we need your ideas. 
coming FFUP petition

3) Elderly release Bill. We are working with legislators, members law school professors and others to put together an elderly release bill, addressing the looming health care crisis in our prison’s caused by the parole boards refusal to release eligible prisoners . We have some key legislative support will use this bill to show the legislature that it is both fiscally wise and very safe to give a second chance to prisoners who are no longer dangerous.

  5)  Pathway for JUVENILES:We hope to use this as a pathway to secure release for the many prisoner sentenced in adult courts as juveniles and serving sentences far too long.
                    see blog of individual prisoner's stories 

A major work is with the mentally ill in segregation units, many of whom try to harm themselves, and with those we consider political prisoners that find themselves forever entombed in solitary. Here we often establish close relationships through letter writing. Advocacy, calling and writing authorities and activist organizations on their behalf is especially heartrending for the conditions of confinement in these “Seg Hells”are horrendous.
        We have established a committee to gather with other segregation advocacy groups, gather experts and concerned people to form a powerful block to force change. (see WCEHTP, Wisconsin Committee for the Ethical and Humane Treatment of Prisoners) WI health leadership is progressive, has establish a model mental health unit but is unable to implement  it widely for lack of funding. FFUP is also working with individual prisoners ,helping them find experts for their lawsuits, which include class actions that would force the DOC to build more units like the model ones that have been tried here.
                                       WCEHTP an introduction
                                          mission statement
                                     documents inmates provide
                                     endorsement statement
                                    stress questionnaire for prisoners

ACLU has a model health unit which prisoners say would work in Wisconsin. Click here to view details

 2We work with the WISDOM Campaign called 11X15(sign their petition), to promote funding of alternatives to prison. Sign Wisdom petition. , plus we have general education campaign to show legislature that they can drop their knee jerk tough on crime stand and to advance a wiser prison policy which has prevention and treatment as first priorities and uses incarceration last. Coming: survey and petition, pamphlets.

Hub of work is directly with prisoners:
 Answering letters from prisoners and advocating for them.  This takes most of our time and what keeps us going: The giving goes both ways .We advocate for prisoners with many calls and letters and we also try to teach prisoners and family members to advocate for themselves.

    Purchasing neccessities for prisoners:items like stamped envelops, paper, hygiene items are in very short supply. Books(zenni starting at 10 dollars), release clothes from thrift shop, and an enormous amount of copying and mailing are on our list.  click here for more details

    Our newsletter. Bridge of Voices, written for prisoners, is very popular and contains many inmate submissions.
June 2013 Bridge of Voices
March 2013 Bridge of Voices
August 2012 Bridge of Voices- lots of law, supreme court etc
parole newsletter of a few years ago-still good

 We Give voice to prisoners though blogs and website. Hundreds of prisoners have their stories, art and writings on our web and blogs. See list of blogs by subject and prisoner's name

3) PENPALS We try to Reconnect prisoners with society and encouraging the public to get to know the human face of prisons.All prisoners want a penpal- this we tell all our blog readers in hopes they will fell free to send an encouraging note to any prisoner on our blogs. But we also have a penpal club blog and many blogs specifically for encouraging the public to write to prisoners. Also , any time you write a helpful comment on a prisoners post or blog, we send it to the prisoner. We provide a forwarding address for those who want to write a prisoner but do not want to give their own address.Email us for more information 

art, writings poetry, songs

NEW ebook publishing for prisoners.
    "WHAT PRISON TEACHES" by Harlan Richards
available at

              Harlan  has blog with us: Case for Parole, and is also on Between the Bars Blogging

DarRen Morris #236425;
CCI; PO Box 900
Portage, WI 53901
Darren Morris, waived into adult court at aged 17, was mentally ill and has made great strides 
in overcoming his illness. See more of his work, read his story;
Add caption

Tommy Silverstein  2-13-030-L 14634-116;
                                                              USP Max ;Box 8500; Florence, CO 81226

Tommy Silverstein is a most famous prisoner because he has been one of the most isolated.
He stabbed a guard while in prison. He still works on getting into general population, hoping
 someday the authorities will see he is not the man he used to be, that people do change. See his
incredble art below  and in blogs linked.

Tommy Silverstein


View blog Meet Your Prisoners-a real potpourri

LaRon McKinley 42642; WCI


  Its not that I don’t trust to write you a bio about me. 
   Its just that I don’t like ( not ashamed, just not comfortable 
with)my past. I am tired of being judged by it. Every day or 
every hearing I have ,every opportunity, every reminder that 
someone in a Doc suit acts toward me that I am too dangerous
 to  sit out in a lawn chair with them or their family, or with
 anyone, and drink a soda or watch a sports event. They are
 rubbing my past in my face. And so I am tired of it, tired of 
being reminded of it or thinking of it as I already have a
 trillion times as it is what has reaped me this dismal existence.
            My artwork shows the beauty at which my mind’s eye gages
 and judges and I want others to see what I see and feel in their 
subjects and judge me on that measure.

Blog of Diverse works by prisoners 

Ron schillikng

Ron Schilling has two blogs.  He is a musician-
a guitarist and  fine singer and we invite you to listen to him
 on utube:Utube link:

 Free Ron Schilling:describes his ordeal with the prison
 system which gives a excellent primer on the parole fiasco

  Ron Schilling#32219;
KMCI;PO Box 282; Plymouth, WI 53703-0282

Ron Schilling essays;
Charles Anderson
PO Box 800, Mauston, WI 53948

    Tony Merriweather at arrest
Tony Merriweather, fine artist, litigator who helps others(above)
Many inmates have no access to colors, they are given only a pen nib. Tony did these while he was in seg, using some

 creativity to get color into his pictures. this pictures were included in letters
new address:
PO Box 925; Red Granite, WI 54970
He now spends most of his time helping other inmates with their law cases.

 Marteze Harris essays, another man who has changed much since he committed his crime. Here he
 shares his story and ideas
Marteze Harris
.Marteze Harris #161543
NLCI, PO Box 4000
New Lisbon, WI 53950
Marteze Harris, introduces himself and begins his blog
Tyrone Munson#356817
WCI, PO Box 351; Waupun, WI 53963
Tyrone Munson
Congratulation,you graduated,but no one will call your name.No,there will be no role call,no acceptance speech!You did not finish school or make the deans list. There was no diploma, you just simply graduated. Sad,, no mother,no father,no brother,no sister. No one to cheer your name. What for? No one came to honor you, "CONGRATULATIONS, for your GRADUATION"!

"Who do you think you are to receive such a prestigious award? You only survived a household of trama. There is no blue ribbon because your father left you at an early age. You don't get a courageous of the year trophy because you survived the family secret and your mother's shame. That at the hands of someone you trusted. They, did awful things to you."Ha" you think it noble ,there is no B.A. there is no master's degree.

For your degree's are third degree burns ,that runs from your face to your torso. From hot grease being thrown on you because your mother says every time she looks at you, she see's your father. A mathematician, never saw that in your future, and besides that you are too dumb for  that, at least this is what everyone is telling you. You want to be a mathematician? Well solve this problem, One mother on crack. Plus a father who is not even a part of your life, which really is a minus, divided by drugs alcohol, dropping out of school. Equals committing a crime, ending up in prison or dead.

Yeah "CONGRATULATIONS" as you look into the mirror ,and you have come to hate him that stares back at you. Because now you believe everything people said about you. No you should not have low self esteem. Suck it up! didn't they tell you real men don't suppose to cry. But this boy who is only 11 years old says to himself I am not a man. But he is indeed a man ,but the only thing he can remember was when he was this boy. Now at 30,he is still stuck at 11.CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR GRADUATION.

For this time you have made a stand ,from being  powerless ,to being powerful. You are honored for your silent courage. You are praised for your  resilience .Not backing down from when life smacked you around. CONGRATULATIONS. Because you GRADUATED ,from a school that had no dreams. The teachers have all failed you, but you passed .Not because of some book that told you this, or you felt that you needed validation from someone else. Or some paper acknowledging mere accomplishments don’t even seem to suffice.
No "CONGRATULATIONS you GRADUATED". Because you choose not to stay in a box ,you did not make excuses.You choose not to allow your past ,to say who you are in your present .So I think that I should CONGRATULATE you on your GRADUATION. There is no need for a cap & gown, be proud of who you've become. Hold your head up and stand tall ,smile for the camera. You made it. not how other's think you should have, but you made it......

 Essays by Quentin Ward:(below)
a thoughtful man who has endured much. He again, Like so many older prisoners, turns his attention
to trying to guide the young.

Juan Ward 275760
GBCI, PO Box 19033
Green Bay, WI 54307
Quentin Ward
below essays on his blog
·         conditions of freedom

Manuel Williams 303943
WCI PO Box 351, Waupun, WI53963
just got out of segregation after many years in isolation, doing well.

Standing Bear, philosopher, poet, Native American and Black,  Standing Bear is a leader in the prison, teaching guitar, holding
 sweatlodges and generally guiding younger prisoners.

Standing Bear: Frederick Spence #132827
SCI 100 Corrections Drive
Stanley, WI 54768

Jerry Price 171022

Macomb Correctional Facility;34625 26 Mile Rd;

 New Haven, MI 480048

Lorenzo Balli, in seg, ,mentally ill and so wise. Like many people entombed in our prisons, he would probably be a real help to us if he were out here and much of his mental illness is induced or enhanced by his inhumane conditions. 
Lorenzo Balli 238265
GBCI; PO Box 19033
Green Bay, WI 554307
Lorenzo Balli

Lene Cespedes Torres, artists, stranded from Cuba;(below)

Lene was waived into adult court as a juvenile , a youth recently immigrating to this country from
Cuba. He still maintains he is innocent of the murder he was convicted of and has long been ready
 for Parole.
Lene Cespedes Torres #122605
NLCI, PO Box4000

New Lisbon, WI 54307

Unique Flower
It was a small shoot, just a tiny seed that grows inside her mother's womb. Now a little bud whose petals are daily growing. Unique in your DNA, part is mine and part your mother's. Your finer and more precious than any of the flowers, that my garden ever grew. She is part of my heart already, may she grow up moral and upright. My hope is that my little flower will be a scholar with chances to succeed. By now you know my flower is my daughter, my pride and joy she'll be. No father could be prouder of this life that soon will be.
I only knew her a short while, before I went away. Hoping to someday give to her, a better life than I could if I did stay.
I got the news she passed away, so tragic was her death. Quietly I mourn her loss, each and every day. In my heart she'll live on, my little flower, unique in so many ways. When I'm laid to rest, I want to be laid next to her grave. In life my little girl and I were sadly separated, in death we will be happily reunited, together once again.
Lene Cespedes-Torres

Christopher Kopaczewski 178378(below)
GBCI PO Box 19033
Green Bay, WI

Robert Jordan 15893 SCI (68)(art work below)

Matthew Hoffman 133706 OCI

Matthew Hoffman

Shannon Griffith 165268 Saginaw Corr Facility; 9625 Pierce Rd; Freeland, MI 48623
shannon griffith

FFUP UPDATE july 2024

SUMMER BRIDGE OF VOICES PART I, our newsletter, is now on its way to prisoners. It will take two to three weeks to get there but will be  fo...