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EXPO Empathy Day of Action

A couple weeks ago, I had the privilege of going to the state capital in Madison for EXPO’s Empathy Day of Action. We spent the day learning from EXPO leaders, senators, and representatives on Unlock the Vote and AJR 107. Using the information we learned, we got to have conversations with our legislators, representatives, and their staff. We met with those who voted in favor of AJR 107 which is a constitutional amendment that was created after the Waukesha parade tragedy. 

This amendment would change the eligibility and release conditions prior to a conviction. This amendment would also create a stricter cash bail system by making it possible for judges to consider past criminal history when setting bail charges. Setting higher bail charges would punish low-income people and keep more people incarcerated if they cannot pay bail. 

This amendment has passed the Legislature and would need to pass next year before going to the general public as a referendum. Many incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals will be left out of that vote though due to their criminal records. Some EXPO members don’t have the right to vote for another 20 years even though they are no longer incarcerated and are paying taxes; taxation without representation. 

Voting is one of our most fundamental human rights and those who are incarcerated are further disenfranchised without this right. Unlock the Vote is a campaign of EXPO’s related to this issue, that we discussed with legislators. This campaign seeks to restore voting rights to those on community supervision for a felony conviction. In the United States, there are over 6 million people who cannot vote due to a felony conviction. Roughly half those people are only on community supervision. In Wisconsin alone, there are over 40,000 people who are unable to vote due to a felony conviction. With Unlock the Vote, we can re-engage disenfranchised Wisconsin voters.

EXPO is doing great work to make change in Wisconsin for those in and out of the prison system and will continue advocating for those without a vote. 



Kayla Nessmann

ESTHER, Communications Coordinator



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