FFUP is just releasing a report that is the culmination of 20 years of work with prisoners and their families. Although it 's main focus is the torture that IS today's overuse and abuse of solitary confinement, it also delineates the history of how we evolved such a corrupt and soul destroying system and gives our suggestions for ways to heal. Here is a link to the report itself and two recommendations .
Click for report: https://ffupstuff.files.wordpress.com/2020/03/1-a-sol-report-final-3-7-20.pdf
This is a collection of
extraordinary documents and information that addresses so many Wisconsin prison
issues, as well as potential remedies and solutions. I was particularly struck
by the WWRC - Wisconsin Women's Resource Center. This is what prisons look
like, in my experience, when the focus is on the three legs of safety,
rehabilitation and humanity. Far too often the focus in Wisconsin has been on
punishment, forgetting that incarceration IS the punishment. Let us focus on
using the shell of prison as a place where successful programs and experiences
can offer growth. Other states and countries have successfully prepared
prisoners to return to our communities. Isn't this what our state's
"Purchase of Offender Goods and Services" budget should centrally
focus on? Teach these individuals (many of whom have had horrific life
experiences and daily face mental health challenges) how to function in and
contribute to the world outside of prison. Flood the prisons (and release
sites) with programs and services and interventions and family and humanity and
caring! We would all benefit.
Judith Adrian, Ph.D.
Co-author with DarRen Morris, In
Warm Blood: Prison & Privilege, Hurt & Heart (2014) Milwaukee:
Bonnie Kerness, AFSC
Prison Watch Program Director 1
I have just finished reading “Torture
in Wisconsin Prisons”, which is an extraordinary report featuring the work
between FFUP (Forum for Understanding Prisons) and people in Wisconsin prisons.
The Forum for Understanding Prison’s mandate is to act as a bridge between
prisoners, their families and the outside world resulting in this crucial
report for Wisconsin legislators, the media and other interested citizens. The
detailed report on the Wisconsin Department of Correction’s use of solitary
confinement is an important work reflecting, in an often heart breaking manner,
the way in which the use of extended isolation impacts upon individuals and
their family members – and ultimately on
wider society upon the release of people who most assuredly will be affected
with symptoms of post-traumatic stress.
The American Friends Service Committee Prison
Watch Program has worked with psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers,
prisoners, their families and legislators from other states for many years – all
in a common effort to abolish and/or set limits on the inappropriate use of
solitary confinement, and the extremely harsh and often unhealthy conditions of
confinement in solitary units.
We, in New Jersey, did succeed in passing a
bill that will limit the use of solitary confinement, called the Isolated
Confinement Act. 2 Advocates and legislators know that the triumph of the bill’s passage is only a
first step in terms of addressing the conditions in which people are held in solitary confinement in the state. Since its passage I
continue to receive letters from prisoners noting angrily and accurately that nothing
in the bill alters the conditions of confinement which often includes a culture of officer abuse and humiliation, of
psychiatric neglect, of the development of permanent mental health symptoms of
post traumatic stress, – none of which is addressed in the legislation that Gov. Phil
limiting the amount of time spent in solitary which the New Jersey legislation
achieves, we want to move forward to provide an environment which does no
further damage either mentally or physically to the people serving legal
sentences. Separation from society is the punishment for the conviction of a
crime – not
unconscionable heat, filth, vermin and human cruelty. I don’t ever want to speak
at another funeral of a prisoner who has died from heat stroke. I don’t ever
want to receive another telephone call from a
mom crying because her mentally ill child has been bitten by mice, crawled on
by roaches and humiliation by officers. The AFSC Prison Watch receives
testimonies from throughout the country replicating complaints by people in
prison in Wisconsin. It is to the credit of States like Colorado, Montana,
Maryland, Texas, Arkansas, New Mexico, and Georgia that such treatment and
conditions are being addressed.
We, the outside
community of advocates and those who have survived this treatment must and will
push forward to alter and eventually abolish the mercilessness of these
conditions of confinement. Over the years, I have found it important to remind
myself that the Department of Corrections is more than a set of institutions,
it is also a state of mind. That state of mind cannot be fully altered
legislatively, and is exactly what formerly imprisoned, families, advocates and
legislators need to monitor and address with conscientiousness. It is we, the collective
citizenry that can provide and ensure true social change. We want people who
have paid for their criminal behavior coming home healed, healthy and with the
ability to fulfil their promise as human beings.
This report is an important and valuable
tool helping us to understand the racism and classism that results in the
mentally ill, the poor, and largely people of color living in circumstances
which have been deemed cruel and unnecessary by the international community.
Solitary confinement makes us all “wardens” of the worst kind and maintains us,
as the public, in violation of international standards and treaties.
Wisconsin’s Forum for Understanding Prisons is to be lauded and emulated for
this fine report. It is a model for the rest of the country. We are hoping that
the State of Wisconsin joins others which have passed or are currently
considering this most egregious assault to human dignity.
1 Bonnie Kerness, MSW,
program director of the American Friends Service Committee Prison Watch.
Market Street, 6th
floor; Newark, NJ 07102
Friends Service Committee(AFSC) is a
Quaker organization devoted to service, development and peace programs
throughout the world.
American Friends Service Committee Prison Watch program empowers individuals harmed by criminal
legal system policies and violence to heal and transform the conditions under
which they live. Program staff disseminate public information on human
rights abuses and healing opportunities; respond to needs
of incarcerated people and those harmed by criminal acts; influence individual
administrators and policy makers; and provide expertise to coalitions, advocacy
groups, community organizations, students, writers, and the media. Our
Prison Watch Program monitors human rights abuses in U.S. federal and state
prisons. In particular, the program promotes national and international
attention to the practices of isolation and torture. Find more Prison Watch resources here. (https://www.afsc.org/content/prison-watch-resources)
And here is again link to the report :
What is needed we are told by long time rehabilitates prisoner, is change the basic revenge forever philosophy of the WI DOC . To do that we need to build a power base. If you want to get involved on any level, Email email@example.com
peg Swan,FFUP founder