Thursday, December 20, 2018

FFUP'S Wish List for the New Governor


intro: Although FFUP does have allies and friends throughout the state, right now FFUP is Prisoners and one old lady , me, who for 18 some years has been writing to and advocating for prisoners.  FFUP’s mission is to not only help the prisoner get through his or her incarceration ordeal with psyche intact, but to be a voice for the prisoner. Therefore  In this auspicious time, I am compelled to make an effort to relay some of the basic unmet needs of the prisoners in hope that these will be considered as we go forward.

These are suggestions and needs intertwine.  On the suggestions I tried to point out stuff that can be at least started now without legislative approval. I do believe that going ahead with the learning and gathering is important – the  rest will come if the ground work is solid. This is no attempt at anything complete here-  in my view the WI DOC is  completely corrupted and only with a firm reinstating of mission and enforcing of  that reinstatement with supportive actions  can the sadism that has taken over the system be eliminated. 

1)Put and an ex prisoner on Governors transition team and Designate a person on the Governors staff who will read and consider seriously prisoners letters throughout his term. Wisconsin prisons are filled with fine litigators, people who have taught themselves the law in order to survive. These people know what needs to be done to make the system safe and humane – to make it a healing place. FFUP has worked with these prisoners and our proposals are generally the product of months of back and forth letters between litigators and me.  Read prisoners letters and open a channel to the litigators and you will have a working effective  system that heals. 

2) The governor can start a statewide discussion of who we have in prison and why. Also should be discussed how to help a person in trouble and why we have no effective alternatives to prison for the very troubled.
This discussion should be held in schools and places of gathering. Discussion tools can be provided by prison reform groups already doing their best at this task- with leadership from the governor, this could take off.
a)Included should be discussions on how we can help troubled people in our midst and why we isolate them.  Also a discussion of the  roll of prisons as the dumping ground for the poor and mentally ill and why we provide no alternatives to desperate families
b)Discussed should discuss WI unique place as the worst city to be a Black man in ( largest percentage of  Blacks per capita in the nation, lowest reading and math scores for many straight years, And thirdly, Milwaukee has been deemed the most
segregated city etc),
c) basically the discussion should aim to spark a notional discussion  that humanizes those in prison and takes away the hysteria that blinds people to the real engine behind all the prisons ( money) .

6) Grants needed : Bussing for families to prisons: 2 van services ready, grant needed for coordinator,
and a fund to help pay for families who cannot afford fare. We have been told by 2 van owners that fares will be reduced if vans are filled and that will be coordinators main job
                               POPS: A program for securing placement and support of soon to be release prisoners patterned aftet the POPS program in CA.
- one paid coordinator, rest volunteers, and funding for materials/Volunteers line up supports for prisoners, help them in transition, find mentors while in prison- probably good to have someone funded who works at Project Return or with EXPO- should be an ex-prisoner. ALL old law prisoners would be eligible for program, and TIS as they come up for release. /could possibly be part of UM LAIP or WIP-or an adjacent program.
grant for coordinator and supplies needed
                               A particularly popular idea e is a place of refuge for prisoners after release- some would stay temporarily, some would build their future from here- the plan is for a sustainable community. There are many of these proposals, this one, spiritually based, is the most recent:This is the vision of two prisoner, they are sending a more down -to earth plan/summation. funding is needed for the salary for a person to do ground work ( finding a place, fundraising etc)

        a) wanting to be deported back to family . Now eligible for parole, judge ordered deported upon release- still being held- one person ready here: Lene Cespedes Torres
        b) pardon/sentence commutation for someone severely harmed by isolation –first one here: Kamau Damali
        c) Compassionate release_ packet of people requesting compassionate release, The  DOC does not recognized the exec order    31- we are gathering people to add to the three that are ready. Here is old  application- new one coming.

4) Enact parole Guidelines put together by FFUP- As Governor Thompson stopped parole with a memo, the governor can start it with an executive order or  memo . Also pick a parole chairman who believes people change and are not defined by their crime.
these guidelines would reinstate parole as it was before the Thompson memo. Only those ready would be released.Here are guidelines, which need no legislature, and the proposed rules which woudl be needed only if the guidelines were not followed.

parole guidelines and rules alone

Here is the whole Parole rule petition using statue 227 submitted in 2016 about- some good talking points.


5) set up a committee to study ending revocations without new felonies – Start by studying what was done in Washington and  else where:

Washington State has a program that is worth studying:
2014 Introduction: How Swift and Certain Sanctions Changed Community Supervision in Washington State :
 summary of evaluation - 2 pages

2)And this is the 73 page evaluation of Washington’s program:

Here are links to what we have now:
 1) WI present supervision rules:
 2)Act 196:
3) which brought about the 2016 guidelines which we believe are too vague and as voluntary guidelines, are generally not followed : 

Also, again, prisoners have the best ideas because they have gone through it. Any rules you come up with should reviewed by them- I think of prisoner litigators I work with as guides.
6) specific problems:
         Needed: study committees made up of volunteers in the  community, legislators,  prisoners ( through letters) Ever’s staff).

           a)  PREA-( prison rape elimination act)
Sexual assault is a huge problem within the WI system because all outside agencies tasked to advocate and help rely on the DOC to report the assault.  This rarely happens and then only the assault is between inmates in full view of others and or a guard is involved and it is so public noone can deny its occurrence. The rules put forward by the DOC are as usual, stunning and as usual- either not followed or interpreted in such a way that those who report rapes are targeted for retaliation forever with no help. FFUP is working with three victims in an effort to possibly do a joinder action and can produce a report we did several years ago. But this is something that needs to be studied. “PREA IS A JOKE”. The letters are horrific – will post a few soon.

            b)THE BIG ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM- a completely broken inmate complaint system- the fox guards the chicken coop is the saying often used, over the years access to the courts is curtailed more and more through this system- again this needs to be a study group with close ties to prisoner litigators. The nepotism in the system is daunting – the examiner(decider) comes from within the staff of the prison and is co worker to the person he /she is judging- often they are related by blood. Evidence would need to be collected and other states studied,
7)  EASY STUFF That would change much
  a) bring back interlibrary loan and other programs like one that bought kids at risk to meet and talk with selected offenders- was tremendously successful according to prisoners  . Man other programs were stopped when mission was dropped.   Course now there are few programs because of lack of staff and overpopulation.

 b) ALLOW emailed receipts on books- Books are very hard to get into the prison because the prison requires that  they include a paper receipt,. With the internet few books companies include receipts- they email them. An executive order or talk to DOC  chairman asking for change of policy would make a huge difference in quality of life for prisoners.

c) Hygiene should be carried by vendors ( marcus and union supply) so family and friends can buy for prisoner and look at and study what indigent prisoners are getting for supplies. Tell  DOC to allow to Vendors to carry hygiene items.  This is a BIGGY- hygiene- deodorant and soap- is only sold on canteen and indigent and those in seg have no access. the hygiene the prison gives out is absurd. the soap is in a plastic packet about 2” by 1 “ and flat- does not have enough soap for one wash up and a few are to last for days the tooth brush and paste are all absurdly inadequate and prisoners take their daily routine very seriously and taunt one another when standards are not up to parr. Food, stamps etc  is exchanged for hygiene. REALLY HUGE.

d) Be aware: FOOD portions getting smaller especially in seg. Between being in cells too cold or too hot and not getting enough food. many prisoners can only sleep all day in isolation. A Constant nagging problem  is not enough to eat- HUNGER. I am told that an investigation would not come up with anything unless it were a surprise  but awareness come first.  

And especially for segregation/Solitary
1Announce goal of eliminating solitary for more the 15 days. Connect with EXPOS  education team  and make it clear that solitary is used as a population control tool- there is not enough staff or general population staff and seg is easier to handle than general population. these days most prisoners seldom come out even in general because of lack of staff.
So solitary reform must go hand in hand with population reduction.

There are many things that need to be in place for this to happen . In the meantime , study Colorado’s rules . They deal with the violent with intensive treatment. An example of the horror of our system is that LaRon McKinley spent 27 years in solitary here, regularly testing as psychopathic. He was the one winners in a hunger strike put on in 2016- and was sent to Colorado and now is doing fine in general population. The rule that allowed him to be kept in Solitary confinement so long was the vague rule that allowed long term solitary for have a “History of violence”- his crime ( noone was killed, a violent escape attempt 27 years before)

2) do the solitary reform in stages.
     1)Announce you need to build a mental health treatment center patterned after one mandated at Women’s prison in Fond du lac.The DOC had budgeted it several years ago- they will agree probably again.  Tell the legislature we do not need another prison,we need a mental health treatment center. WRC is whole inadequate- there needs t be a place where the prisoner can stay as long as is needed . 
Here is power point of center at TCI, Fond du Lac
    2) Get rid of the thug guards. Start with the most notorious:Talk to Warden at WCI about the most notorious guards Joseph Beahm and Monguey in WCI- who were shown to be the most assaultive in 2014 articles by the center for investigative Journalism and now run the seg unit. The inmates live in terror and the few that do report abuses are severely retaliated against , Many prisons have their thug in charge. Set up an investigative committee to look at complaints by prisoners and looking at prisoners letters should bring out the worst. Once you show the staff that brutality will not be rewarded, the fairness and kindness that can now only be shown in secret ,will begin to  come forward. Training and all that is of course needed. 

Center for investigative Journalism WCI abuse 2014 articles


   3 )Insist on rotation of guards  that is long enough and in large enough groups that there is a real change on rotation. as is now , it is rotation in name only. Cameras are used and taken off at will . All areas pointed out by prisoners as without camera need to be investigated and tapes of incidents need to be made avaiable to inmate victims and their advocates- impossible now.

4)  ALL the prison has to do when SOMEONE DIES IS inform the coroner. No investigation usually . WE need every death reported to  an independent body accessible by the public and all should be investigated to extent needed. All needs to change in solitary- there is no treatment and visits by professional staff are few- there is nothing ahead except empty tortured years. Prisoners are routinely given more seg time for harming themselves and several times a day there are suicide attempts. There have been several deaths recently and we only hear about them through inmates . Then we shout in the wind- there is  nothing -

5) No rules or statutes, guidelines will have an effect in this corrupt system unless there is a basic change of heart .  Study is necessary to avoid  band aide changes. The DOC does that all the time and placates the public for awhile and then they go off to something else and the DOC abandons the new policies, rules, guidelines or statutes. - The prisoner is left each time with conditions worse, for the DOC does its dance better and better. Start with instating new parole guideline and appointing a parole commissioner who will follow them and believes in rehabilitation and change . Study Colorado for seg rules and WA for ending without felonies ending and go from  there. And always consult with the prisoner litigators.On request I will supply a list of prisoners I rely on. I know they would to be part of this. This way, we will end up with solutions that really do make the system safe for citizens and healing for prisoners.



          2008 rally by families of prisoners in front of the WI DOC headquarters                    FAMILIES for a  SECOND CHANCE   WE invi...