Prison ‘Reform Now’ Action Day in Milwaukee
SOPHIA members once again added their voice to call for reform of the prison system – this time in Milwaukee on August 20, 2014. Over 150 WISDOM voices called for reform of the Revocation Process and the state’s GPS monitoring system.
Following a briefing at St. Benedict the Moor Catholic Church, learning of the specifics of these issues, we marched to the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF) for a press conference, and then to the State of Wisconsin Building to present letters to Governor Scott Walker & Department of
Reform Now: Revocations & GPS Monitoring from Timothy W Coursen on Vimeo.
Corrections Secretary Edward Wall. (As they were not available; letters were read and presented to their delegates.)
Speakers from WISDOM, NAACP, ACLU, Prison Action Milwaukee, Wisconsin Council of Churches all enlightened us on the issues. 4,000 of the 12,000 people incarcerated each year have not committed a crime, but have violated a rule of their parole. These rule violations may have nothing to do with their original crime – their parole can be revoked for traffic violations, using a computer or cell phone, being around the wrong person. These are people who have paid their debt for their crime, have returned to their families, probably have gotten a job, pay taxes, have become a part of their community. All this can be taken away for breaking a rule.
Most people in MSDF are there for parole/rule violations. Milwaukee is the ONLY city in the country that does not have a Huber Facility, a great option for someone with a job who is awaiting disposition for a rule violation. When in MSDF, people picked up for rule violations do not have access to their job, to treatment if needed, to their family life, to their community.
Many people are given GPS monitors as a condition of parole. We heard that GPS systems used in County programs are very effective. But our state uses older, broken technology. An independent study found ‘”that false alerts outnumbered proven infractions by a 77-1 margin”. False alerts come from system failures such as weak batteries or being in a ‘dead zone’. Older systems are cheaper, but that savings is certainly lost with unnecessary, increased jail days, use of police/ court resources, loss of productivity when jobs are lost, etc.
At the press conference, we were moved by the story of Hector Cubero, shared by his fiancé. The story of how Hector had rebuilt his life after a lengthy jail sentence, and how a teenager’s lie led to a rule violation. Hector is now back in jail, torn from his job, new life and family. Charlotte, his fiancé, is active in the SOPHIA TIP Task Force.
Amari, another witness, was picked up for GPS failure. He was jailed for 5 days, until a new GPS bracelet could be acquired. Fortunately, he works for a church, which understands the injustice of GPS monitoring, and kept his job open for him.
Rev. Joseph Jackson called for policy reform now, listing 7 very specific actions for reform now. To read the full Brief Two: Failures in Revocation and GPS Monitoring, including the 7 actions, visit http://prayforjusticeinwi.org/. This site also includes the letter read to Governor Scott Walker and DOC Secretary Ed Wall through their delegates.
Read the Journal/Sentinel article
Next action will be in Madison on October 1. Watch for specifics on this website on how to join the action.