Proposal for rejuvenating Wisconsin’s Failed Correctional System
Intro- the need for deep change
Charts and explanations explaining need and why our proposals will work, keep us safe and reduce prison population at least by half.
PREVIEW: links to proposals alone:
2) ending reincarceration for non felonies =to be worked out, at this time can be bipartisan study group
b) POPs program- template from CA - this could be used for Old Law Prisoner and TIS prisoners
c) refuge/self sustaining homestead for post incarceration-this is overview, details coming
The Following is for General Education and Has Details and Arguments for our Proposal
build support systems that work
We need to look at who we are holding and why
In our view, The WI Department of Corrections is neither rehabilitating offenders nor keeping the public safe . Starting with the prison boom around 2000, the DOC powers decided to increase population at all cost in order to receive federal dollars and since has abandoned its mission completely. Now the fact of serious overcrowding and lack of staff makes any healthy DOC mission a joke. And it is this overcrowding, and resulting lack of staff ,lack of training and treatment for prisoners that needs to be addressed. This is a critical issue for taxpayers also because the funds for this boondoggle come directly from funds that used to support education and other community needs.
Here are our proposals the following charts and writings will try to explain:
At present , we are working on this part of the bill and want something that not only ends revocations without felonies but set up viable alternatives. Perhaps one approach is to have a study committee set up.
5)Other supports for prisoners and their families that make a successful reintegration into society more certain
Our kids reel under the burden of student debt largely because we support the corrections industry and not education. While the budget for the DOC rises (7%) in graph above for 215-17 , budget for k=12 drops by 14% and the UW system drops by 21 %. WHY? Look again at the prison population graph above: When the prison book started, around 1990, WI had about 7000 prisoners. Today it has 22,000. That is where our taxpayer money is going.
Below :An overview of Wisconsin’s shame: Highest incarceration rate of African Americans in the nation. Black men especially are funneled into our prison system- all factors exaggerate this trend l and a study by the UW Wisconsin Budget Project ( chart below) shows that over incarceration actually causes crime. We who deal directly with prisoners often here that the younger prisoners, those on truth-in-sentencing, often never knew their dads except on prison visiting days. The communities that were main support are broken and gangs are what these kids turn to survive. Once out of prison, the revocation policies and lack of support make staying out a real challenge.
2)Reinstate real compassionate release
Here is justice department in recidivism by age:
2)Another thing to keep in mind is that our parole rules ensure that only those who have shown to be ready for release into the community are paroled.
here is a link to our proposed rules again:
1)release at this time would involve an unreasonable risk to the public;
2) you have not served sufficient time for punishment."
Our society has not come to grips with the human rights violations and sheer inhumanity of holding the elderly in prisons, which are built for able bodied people. We are incarcerating people longer than ever before in history. Here are two excellent studies that seek to bring us to awareness.
|At America's Expense, the Mass |
Incarceration of the Elderly
|Old in Prison by Human Rights Watch|
3)But the disaster only begins here: We are spending our tax dollars incarcerating people that do not need to be there while we neglect the treatment and training of those that really need help- the truth in sentencing prisoners. It is a heart rending contradiction:Truth in sentencing (T-I-S) prisoner are given an out date the DOC must follow. These are mostly kids . While the DOC is spending all its resources on keeping the Old law prisoners entombed and the overcrowding has reach crisis proportions, there is no training or treatment for the vast amount of truth in sentencing prisoners. They come in drug addicted and go out drug addicted and traumatized. Our society does not provide treatment for its mentally ill anymore unless they have big bucks so they are funneled into the prison system also. Over a third of prisoners are mentally ill we are told. And they are literally dumped on the streets with little or no support on their law mandated release, most to be whisked back in for a rule revocation.
Putting OLD LAW and TIS together = The DOC maintains their overcrowded prisons, and staff quitting in droves because forced overtime and rising tensions – it maintains the dysfunction with relative ease because of the policy of reincarcerating prisoners for non felonies. Some parole agents, we are told , brag of their zero success rate. What most released prisoners get: a three month temporary room, no money , no bus pass, no phone, they get food stamps from the government and a state ID and they get a strict curfew. Those prisoners who do have people who want to take them in are often denied for various reason- most end up in these TLPs and from there they are supposed to get a job pronto. Transportation to jobs? Phone? The activist community is working hard to connect these stranded folk with outfits that help but the need is great and the help is fledgling.
Therefore, ALSO essentials to our plan
4)Build a mental health treatment Center like the one court ordered at Taychedah Correctional Institution ,the women’s prison in Fond du Lac and reinstate rules that bring rehabilitation back to our “Correction” system. Wisconsin knows the way to reinstate real treatment. Here are templates:
Our disfunctional correction system poses a real danger to society. Physical and mental abuse is
rampant and although many prisoners do rehabilitate themselves , they do this in spite of the system,
not with it's aid. like these men, Nelson Mandela came out of 27 years of abusive conditions as a loving man and
share with the world the poem that kept his soul alive:"invictus":
This is a Poem 'Invictus' (Unconquered, Undefeated) by William Henley. Great South African
Leader Nelson Mandela (Madiba) was inspired by the poem, and had it written on a scrap
of paper on his prison cell while he was incarcerated for 27 years on Robben Island.
I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
The DOC knows the public would not stand for a any disruptions by newly released prisoners
so they whip them back as soon as they can for as little as they can. It’s a neat little system and now
with overcrowding the DOC, Alex Corporation and whole prison industrial complex monster are
poised to convince us that we need a new prison,the situation is dire- the conditions are so bad
that there will be violence.
But crack downs and more torture will not help and neither are new buildings without fundamental change-
the WIDOC needs to be redirected. strongly redirected- it used to heal – Old law prisoners got
college degrees and got out after 25% of their sentences. Rehabilitation was taken seriously and it
was a good place to work . There were resources for treating the mentally ill and sick and the
public was welcome, families were welcome. I am told that there used to be monthly
pot lucks with families in the maximum prisons! And there were free buses to the prison!
The lack of ability of poor families to get to their love ones has devastated families and
communities and all support from the outside has become ever harder because of rules that
Lets us think broader and deeper- punishment only does not work—it needs to be balanced
with treatment, training and understanding. We, the public, are the employers of the DOC. It is
our mission they need to implement and we say punishment needs to be balanced with
rehabilitation and real public safety. .
Read and SIGN PETITION – this will go to legislators, the DOC and the public.( to be composed)