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Transformational Justice

Demolishing the School-to-Prison Pipeline in Wisconsin

Wednesday, February 10, 2021 - 6:30pm - 8:00pm
Zoom Meeting


How do we end mass incarceration in Wisconsin?

By cutting off its food source: juveniles!

As we prepare to elect the next State School Superintendent, please join us for a timely discussion. 

Wednesday, February 10
6:30-8:00 PM
On Zoom: Click here to REGISTER

We will cover:

  • What is the school to prison pipeline?
  • How do we most effectively dismantle it?
  • How do we as parents, educators and beloved-community members protect our children from entering a system that turns into a life sentence?

Memorial for COVID Victims in Wisconsin Prisons

Tuesday, January 19, 2021 - 5:30pm
State Prisons Around Wisconsin

For incarcerated lives lost to COVID Candlelight VigilPresident-elect Biden has asked the nation to mark a national COVID victims memorial on the eve of the Inauguration. See here for more about the memorial. WISDOM and EXPO leaders will lead Memorial Services in front of seven of the 14 Wisconsin prisons in which men and women have died of the virus. Prisons at which vigils will be held are listed below.

Details for all locations are the same:

Tuesday, January 19
5:30 pm
Masks are required and social distancing will be honored

Please bring your own candle.

Please try to arrive by 5:15.

The memorial services will be brief and prayerful.

ESTHER Prison Reform Task Force

Monday, February 1, 2021 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm
Monday, March 1, 2021 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm
Monday, April 5, 2021 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm
Monday, May 3, 2021 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm
Monday, August 2, 2021 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm
Monday, September 13, 2021 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm
Monday, October 4, 2021 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm
Monday, November 1, 2021 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm
Monday, December 6, 2021 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm
St. Mark's Lutheran Church, 140 South Green Bay Road, Neenah

Meets in person first Monday of each month from 6:00-7:30 pm. (The September meeting is held on the second Monday.)

Leave us a message at with questions or to be added to the mailing list.

“We can’t punish people into being healthy. We need for families to stay intact and for offenders to be responsible to their communities. We are all better off when people can be healed and made whole through these effective programs that bring accountability to the offender and to the community. Alternative treatment programs work better than incarceration.”

ESTHER is part of the statewide ROC WI (Restore Our Communities) Campaign. The campaign is a movement of people of faith calling for change in the Wisconsin system of incarceration.

Integrating Trauma-Responsive Practices Into the Workplace

Monday, January 4, 2021 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm
Zoom Meeting

This presentation is the program for the January 2021 meeting of ESTHER’s Prison Reform Task Force.

The meeting features a presentation by Bill Harrigan of Harrigan Solutions, Grafton, WI. He will describe how his company integrates trauma-responsive practices into the workplace.

This meeting will be conducted on Zoom. There is no charge, and all are welcome. Advance registration is required, and a link to the meeting will be sent to all registrants.

Register Now

Candlelight Vigil: COVID-19 Deaths in Wisconsin Prisons

Monday, December 21, 2020 - 6:00pm - 6:30pm
Governor’s Mansion, 99 Cambridge Rd, Madison


Please join us on December 21 at 6:00 pm in Madison for a Candlelight Vigil to remember those who have died of COVID-19 in our state prisons.

We know that at least 19 people have died in Wisconsin prisons since the pandemic began. We believe there are probably more. We know that, as of this week, almost HALF of all people in prison have tested positive for COVID-19, in contrast to less than 10% of the overall population. We have no way of knowing how many of them have become seriously ill. We also know that hundreds of corrections workers have contracted the virus. Meanwhile, the Governor has not acted to offer clemency, to commute sentences or to release very low-risk people – so that others might have a chance to socially distance – even though his power to do so is clear.

December 21 is the longest night of the year. Let us gather to pray and to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters in prison. If you cannot join us, please take a moment at 6 pm Monday to remember those who have died, those who are sick, and those who have the power and the responsibility to care for the people in our prisons.

Changing the Narrative

This post was contributed by Bill Van Lopik, ESTHER Community Organizer

Bill Van Lopik Teaching Social Justice

I am a social justice advocate. I fight against systemic policies, narratives and attitudes that hurt people and silence their voices. Recently I found myself confronting one such attitude that surfaced in my own house. Last week when I was talking with my 7-year old granddaughter she stated, “I was told that bad things happen to bad people.” There was a time in my life when I might have tacitly agreed with this sort of moral commentary and quickly brushed it off. However, this time the narrative which I know is very pervasive in our society provoked a much more critical response. I was not upset at her, but rather, at the confusion that this type of comment plays in her head. You see, her father is incarcerated, and I am sure in the back of her head she was trying to decide how she should feel about him. Is he really a bad person because he did a bad thing? Is he a bad a person even though he calls her several times a week to talk to her and tells her he loves her and can’t wait to see her?

Governor’s Budget Listening Session

Tuesday, December 8, 2020 - 6:00pm
Zoom Meeting

Budget Listening Session on Criminal Justice Reform

Governor Evers is holding virtual listening sessions as he prepares his 2021-23 State Budget proposal.  Wisconsinites are encouraged to offer their thoughts and recommendations for the Governor to consider.

To be allowed to participate, you need to register. You can do so at the Governor's website here. You can watch the live-stream on Wis-Eye here.

You can also submit written comments or suggestions here.

There will be a WISDOM Zoom meeting on December 8 at 5:00 pm (the hour before the Governor’s “Criminal Justice” listening session), specifically to talk about WISDOM’s priorities for criminal justice reform in the coming state budget. If you would like to join that Zoom in order to prepare for the Listening Session, please email to receive the link. Among other things, WISDOM wants the Governor to:

  • keep his campaign promise to increase Treatment Alternatives and Diversions (TAD) funding by $15 million per year
  • pledge that there will be no money for new prisons or for prison expansions
  • plan for the closing of the Green Bay Correctional Institution and redirect that money to a Justice Reinvestment Fund that can go to programs that benefit the people and communities that have been most badly hurt by mass incarceration.

Ban the Box

People Need to Remake Their Lives

When the prison doors open and a person steps out, it's over, right? Wrong. After prison, a person has to change their life. If they don't, well, the door will be opening again. In the wrong direction.

The Box is a Barrier

People leaving prison need to get jobs, and support their families. So they go to fill out a job application and the first question is, "Have you ever been convicted of a felony?" And if they check that box, they know that most likely their application will be thrown away. How do you remake yourself if there are no jobs?

How can we as a society say we want to reduce prison recidivism when we don't allow people to get jobs? We may say that someone has "paid their debt" but as long as they can't get the job they need; they are still in debt. And the community is the one paying the debt.

We Don’t Need the Barrier

Employers, and that includes the county organizations that have this box, think that they are protecting themselves. They are afraid that people that committed one crime will commit another. They forget that people can and do turn their lives around and that the information is publicly available. Some people would then argue that if employers can find out a prospective employee has a criminal record, what does it matter if there is a box? Employers get first impressions. If that impression is of a great potential employee, they think of employment. On the other hand, what if that first impression is "felon"?

Let's help make people make great first impressions.


Department of Corrections Virtual Town Hall

Wednesday, November 18, 2020 - 9:30am - 11:00am
Virtual Meeting

Wisconsin DOC - Violation Response & Revocation

Tying Criminal Justice Reform in WI to Our November Elections

Saturday, November 7, 2020 - 9:30am
Zoom Meeting

Criminal Justice Reform & Government Budgets

Moderator: Peggy West-Schroder, EXPO Program Director

Please register in advance for this Zoom presentation:

Register Now

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Autumn of Action EXPO WISDOM clenched fist rising out of a firePart of the “Autumn of Action” series coordinated by WISDOM, this presentation is sponsored by WISDOM/EXPO

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