In late May, with no discussion and little explanation or information, the legislative Joint Finance Committee approved an additional $5 million to expand Wisconsin’s prison capacity. There is still time for the State Senate and Assembly to reverse that mistake. But, they need to hear from all of us.
Wisconsin already has the highest incarceration rate in the Midwest. Even worse, we have the shameful distinction of having the highest African-American incarceration rate in the nation. Those are Wisconsin’s problems; NOT lack of prison space.
States around the nation, some led by Republicans and some by Democrats, are working hard to reduce their prison populations, and even to close prisons. They are saving millions of taxpayer dollars, lowering their crime rates, and restoring families. It is shocking that the Joint Finance Committee and the Department of Corrections have a vision that goes in the opposite direction.
There are proven short-term measures that could justly and safely reduce our prison population very quickly. The granting of parole requests has unjustly dropped from 20 percent to 6 percent in the last five years, leaving thousands in prison long past the date the judge expected them to be released. Just last year the Legislature passed the Swift and Certain Sanctions law to reduce the number of crime-less revocations. Still, the Department of Corrections projects no decrease in the number of people it sends back to prison for “technical” violations of rules that involve no new crime.
The state Senate and Assembly will soon vote on the state budget. Call your Senator and Assembly representative today. Tell them NOT to support a budget that expands our prisons. Tell them to take back the $5 million for expansion, and to put that money toward Treatment Alternatives and Diversions.
To find out who your Senator and Assembly representative are, and how to reach them, go to www.legis.wisconsin.gov . Or, call 1-800-362-9472.
Here are recent articles placed by our WISDOM leadership:
Carol Rubin, MOSES, in the CapTimes. More for Prisons? NO!
Ron Alexander, NAOMI, in the Wausau Daily Herald. Budget disregards prison reform plans, hikes spending
This article in the Shepherd Express lays out the issue very well and lifts up WISDOM and our work.
We have momentum: Make your calls now!!!
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