Wednesday, November 23, 2022

FAMILIES FOR A SECOND CHANCE CAMPAIGN

        

2008 rally by families of prisoners in front of the WI DOC headquarters

                   FAMILIES for a  SECOND CHANCE 

WE invite you to join us in an epic task= Families and concerned people working with prisoners to bring back The DOC’s mission to keep the public safe and to rehabilitate. It does neither now.

   JOIN US by email by phone, in our weekly conference calls. WE NEED YOUR VOICE!!

          Email us: peg: pgswan@aol.com/ Tim:timothy.zylstra@yahoo.com,

          Phone: 608-536-3993 leave you phone number and when to call you back if no answer

          Website: “www,prisonforum.org”

Overriding goals- 

  • to bring out the human face of prison, to state emphatically that truth matters and that prisoners are not their crime; everyone deserves a second chance.
  •  to start a movement by connecting the various WI prison activist organizations with  each other and with prisoners and their families so we work together, supporting and aiding other more effectively.
  • To educate the public on WHO WE ARE INCARCERATING with stories, with facts.

  ACTIONS: 

1)Weekly conference call. ALL WELCOME

                    :Wednesdays 3pm: dial 267-807-9495

                                then you will be prompted for this number: 568-065-540

  •   WE WILL BE strategizing on how we can help with individual issues as well as issues that effect all                                                        
  • If you cannot attend the  Wednesday meeting- we can meet in smaller groups any time by conference call or 2 of us via regular phone. 
  •   so again:

      Phone: 608-536-3993 leave you phone number and when to call you back if no answe         Email us: peg: pgswan@aol.com/ Tim:timothy.zylstra@yahoo.com

2) PETITIONS

FIRST PETITION : put individual hygiene and food in Marcus Catalog.

    SIGN HERE:https://chng.it/QgqKMxnZFD

      Making hygiene and extra food available to all is a big deal for prisoners and their families. Now only those prisoners with lots of money or family support can afford snacks, deodorant, shampoo or soap in quantities needed. We start with this in order to build a coalition that can petition, make calls and write letters on issues that effect all as well as individual issues. If we work together and help each other with issues, we can create a movement for real change, 


3)Madison day in spring. -WE need to prepare now.

This is a combined effort with EXPO and WISDOM  we converge the the capitol and talk to our legislators. This is an incredible opportunity for families of prisoners to actually speak to their representatives. There is much preparation to do as  making APPPOINTMENTS with the legislators is important and this takes a lot of phone tagging.  For those interested:

A) ontact FFUP with your information if you would like to  participate. We need zipcodes  also to assure we  make an appointment with your legislator.

B) A bus or ride share to the capitol is possible I am told, if there are enough people. (Contact info at end)


4)FAMILY LETTERS TO THE MEDIA, LEGISLATORS AND DOC.

  •  We need  push-back to the constant barrage of misinformation this election has engendered- I was writing my usual parole letter when  the Rant about rapists and murderers came on the radio and my letter turned into a tirade which in a few paragraphs outlined the whole fiasco. I morphed it into an “OPEN LETTER” to the parole chairman. I suggest you do the same- Let ‘er rip- about whatever your issue- parole/ health care/ wrongly convicted or held/ no support treatment or training/harassment/ abuse- whatever it be.

We will be trying to connect with family members to form an activist group where we can tackle many issues together and support each other with our individual cases. SO if you are interested in composing one of these open letters, or who want to get more involved in other ways, contact us (.-pgswan3@aol.com)

EXAMPLES OF OPEN LETTERS

to new parole Chairman Blythe

to secretary CARR and Governor Tony Evers 

 

5)Spreading your stories through all venues- facebook, blogs, newspapers online and paper etc etc

We are looking for web savvy help to spread our message. If we get the grant, this will be a paid position.

 

6)A WISCONSIN Center for Investigative Journalism ( WIWATCH) reporter is working with us. We have spread the word about him and he is digesting and gathering the responses, We are working with him on these issues but he is interested in all complaints.

  A)Especially  compelling are stories of the impact of the prisoner’s ordeal on their families- we need contact of prisoners and their families who wish to be interviewed.

B) The mentally ill entombed in RHUs as that story will unwind to include all of the systemic corruption. And we have a doable solution that the DOC once embraced and then abandoned- a mental health treatment center and redoing of policies and rules.

C)health care is the second issue on front burner for Journalist.Let  us know of suits you are pursuing - we can get complaints from PACER and if you have filed complaints but gone no further, sum these to us. Also general stories are appreciated and contact information of families who are invested In helping you. THIS INCLUDES mental health issues also- lack of treatment in general population etc.

C) All other issues and FFUP focus- I will be concentrating on helping WIWatch go forward but also continue to gather and use information on all the issues and will see that WIWATCH gets them when they are ready. We are putting these on a private website  and docs for which we have permission to share, will go on the regular web- I use blogger as it is the most versatile. So keep that information coming - all of it- Although swamped, we learn to move forward anyway and do find a path through that coordinates all the factors

 

7)FFUP Reaching out for funding and legal help

1)Grant request sent to two grantor foundations in October- waiting

     Starting with grant for pilot project for 3 month room rentals for newly released prisoners- this grant will also give FFUP funds to HIRE STAFF

   One Grant request here:  

   Pamphlet here on pilot project here:


2) Letter of request for representation for two class actions sent- waiting and more going out.

view template letter to Lawyers

attachments sent: 

   issue one:

  issue two: Stop textbehind, the third party mail system

   two magazine articles on the new third party mailing system:



Monday, November 21, 2022

PILOT PROJECT : A SAFE PLACE TO LAND and GRANT Application

 

link to pamphlet: https://ffupcases.files.wordpress.com/2022/10/1apilot-grant-folderall.pdf

HELP US LAUNCH OUR PILOT PROJECT=

Consider renting a room for three months to a newly released prisoner
1) A coalition of activist organizations are working on a grant to pay for the rental of
rooms and will pay the going rate plus expenses. We expect three month rental  intervals.
2) We will give each person interested in  renting to an ex-prisoner a list of prisoners requesting this help and their introductory letters and encourage them to pick someone and then to begin corresponding before release to make plans and find out if they can work well together.
3) We will back this project up with close attention and will need all your feedback as
we work out quirks. 
4) Once this pilot project is well started, we will be going for a grant that expands all
rehabilitative project we are doing within the prisons system and make sure we can give
prisoners the tools they need to begin healing on day one. We will also be working with
all activist groups in such a way that we enhance each other's efforts and make all
good things available throughout the system.
 
more coming:
 grant application
contact info if you are interested in helping
employment opportunity possibilities for exprisoners



OPEN LETTER TO NEW WI PAROLE CHAIRMAN CHRISTOPHER BLYTHE

prison assembly line- from an old pamphlet
,,                                                             sadly still relevant


As I was finishing  this letter a news report came on radio that the Republican candidate for governor was going after Govern Evers for paroling ANYONE . The baffling lies and misconstructions in this maneu           ver and my outrage led me to decide to submit this as open letter.   Forum for Understanding Prisons ( FFUP, a 501c3 Non profit)

        

OPEN LETTER TO THE NEW WISCONSIN PAROLE CHAIRMAN

 To:Wi Parole Chairman Christopher Blythe/3099 E. Washington St. /

September 20, 2022

Hello,

I  have been part of a non-profit that works with prisoners and their families for over twenty years and have written lots of parole letters to the parole chairmen serving during that time. Each letter becomes more difficult. You are new and I write with renewed interest because I know nothing abut you and maybe you come to the job without entrenched political ideas.
       I work with many of  the prisoners in the adult system and the word spreads by mouth so I do see the whole picture and I ask you to look at this picture through my eyes for a minute as you consider the parole of  Rufus West.

      I met Rufus soon after I started this work, The Wisconsin Supermax had just opened and he was in what was called “behavior Management” . He was always in trouble, unable to follow the rules and in deep traima over the death of another prisoner. He has since learned the law and become a leader to many. He has healed himself through his activism as so many of us do- and tirelessly works for justice wherever he is. I admire him tremedously especially since he is retaliated against at every turn by the system and I believe his activism, as with many other Old Law prisoner litigators, is why he is still in Maximum. FFUP also has endured retailaition so I do know what I am talking about.

     Rufus is long past the time he was eligible for parole,( which was set at a quarter of the sentence if behavior was good)and is now past his PMR( the time ,by law he was supposed to be release barring extrraordinary circustances) . He is one of thousands kept arbitarily in that they are given reasons over which they have no control.

Here is where I ask you to look broader . I am dealing with many young prsioners, TIS prisoners, who are by law released at their court mandated release date no matter their readiness. Many of these, I am finding, are in RHU ( restricted housing units), mentally ill and have spent months if not years in solitary confinement without treatment or training, Then they are literally dumped at release. This seems to work for the system because in WIsconsin, a prisoner can be reincarcerated for non felonies .So these ex-prisoners in the main are then swooped right back  up into the system. As I work with many TIS prisoners, they call on me for help while in prison and then again after release- it is heartbreaking and we are working on a grant to help with immediate need for transitional housing as the system is absolutely inadequate to the need.

What is wrong with this picture? All studies show that people after the age of 30 commit almost no crimes- ALL OLD Law prisoners, every person you deal with - are over thirty , many if not most in their 50’s and above. They are very little risk to society an have much to give. I often say “We have Nelson Mandelas in our prisons” because we do- They have learned to focus in a way we out here, with too much social media and stimulation, cannot. They have learned self control in a way we never have to. And in the main they have a deep deep desire to give back, to repay society for the harms they have caused. Surprisingly, most prisoners although severely traumatized, are NOT bitter. They just want a chance to give back..Many have children they want to mentor and their deepest grief is seeing their children fall victim to the current inanities . Rufus lost his son in this way- and has had to deal with it isolated and alone.

 It is these OLD Law prisoners the  WI DOC holds on tenaciously giving the false reason that  they are to great a “risk  to society”, while TIS prisoners are let go usually with little or no support . There are wonderful non profit programs like OARS and DOES that help disabled prisoners with release but they have to be referred to these programs by social workers and this is hard to get for most of the most needy.

   WHO benefits from this system? Certainly not the public. Our prisons are so overcrowded and understaffed, they are often on lockdown and programs are at a minimum;staff works 14 to 16 hour days. Overtime and lawsuits are all paid for by the taxpayer. AND because the system mines the poorer, mostly non white neighborhoods, many of the kids in these areas grow up without positive parental models and choose gangs as their families out of necessity. A study by the UW concluded that over incarceration CREATES CRIME and this is one of the reasons. *

   WHO benefits from this system? It works by keeping the public in constant panic over crime. It works because the WI DOC policy of revoking prisoners at the slightest excuse keeps the public from ever seeing just who they are incarcerating . But it is excruciatingly harmful- When I went to college eons ago, I paid 200  dollars a semester, my husband went free in NY city, there were 7000 people in WI prisons. Now there are 22000 prisoners and college graduates reel under thousands and thousands of dollars in school loan debt ,  We used to support  education and we believed in rehabilitation.

I ask you to consider this rant - help us to leave behind the easy politics of fear that is leads to disaster for the many , to real listening and discovery. Through openness we can find the path to healing.

We desperately need Rufus West out here- please okay his release- he has much to give .

Thankyou for your attention, Peg Swan, Founder and Co-director/

1)UNLOCKING AMERICA: a summary from JFA Institute/Summary by David Rhodes:http://www.prisonforum.org/2013/05/unlocking-america-summary-from-ffa.html

Whole study:https://ffupstuff.files.wordpress.com/2013/05/unlockingamerica.pdf

2)ACLU:AT AMERICA'S EXPENSE: THE MASS INCARCERATION OF THE ELDERLY

https://www.aclu.org/report/americas-expense-mass-incarceration-elderly

3) Wisconsin’s Mass Incarceration of African American Males: Workforce Challenges for 2013

By: Employment and Training Institute University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee  2013

https://dc.uwm.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1008&context=eti_pubs

 

 



Sunday, November 20, 2022

lets get some facts Out there-


DO WE REALLY WANT REVENGE FOREVER??

Murderers and Rapists. Yes , some crimes are horrendous. Most are property crimes and crimes of poverty' We used to believe in rehabilitation, that people change- that was before prisons become profit making enterprises and vilifying prisoner became a way to maintain  over capacity prisons no matter the consequences.

here are some charts to begin the conversation:

over a third of our prisoners are mentally ill , hundred have been designate by the courts as " not guilty due to mental insanity or defect" . they are in prison because the courts do not know what to do with them and many end of in torturous solitary confinement ( RHUS). See more:: ( coming)

Over half of new admissions any year in our prison system are there for NON FELONIES, RULE Violations and they are revoked ( reincarcerated ) with little of no due process. 
( see- coming)




WE SUPPORT THE PRISON INDUSTRY, NOT SCHOOLS or our children


As stated in blurb above, when I went to    college tuition was 2000 a  semester and we  have 7000 prisoners . Now tuition In WI INSTATE is around 10,00 dollars and population in prison is 22000 . who benefits?


NEXT: WHO ARE WE INCARCERTATING?

FAMILIES FOR A SECOND CHANCE CAMPAIGN

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