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Prison Reform

Prison Reform Task Force

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Below are some actions and events that move us toward our goal of treatment instead of prison related to drug and alcohol offenses for non-violent offenders.  We are working to gain additional funding to support treatment and alternatives to incarceration. Unless otherwise noted, events are free and open to the public.

For more information, contact the chair, Lisa Hanneman.

State Superintendent Candidates Townhall

Date: 
Wednesday, March 10, 2021 - 6:30pm - 7:30pm
Location: 
Zoom Meeting

State Superintendents Downhill - Kerr-UnderlyYou're invited to join EXPO for a

State Superintendent Candidates Townhall
“Ending the School to Prison Pipeline”

March 10, 2021 from 6:30-7:30 PM
Watch on Zoom or the EXPO Facebook Page
Sign up here

EXPO Wisconsin will talk with Deb Kerr and Dr. Jill Underly, WI Candidates for State Superintendent, about their ideas for ending the school to prison pipeline.

  • In School vs. Out of School Suspensions
  • Expulsions
  • Police Presence in our School
  • Racial Bias & More

These are all things that have created - and continue to create - a feeder for mass incarceration in our state and country.

How do we end it? We start at the polls by making informed decisions about who we put in charge of our children's academic lives. Please join us for this important discussion. Sign up here.

Help spread the word - download and share the attached flier.

ESTHER Applauds Governor’s Budget for Prison Reform

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Contributed by Bill Van Lopik.

On February 14, Governor Evers released his proposed state budget for the next two years. This biennium budget actually contains significant funding increases for prison reform programs that ESTHER and WISDOM have been fighting for over the years. We know that the Joint Finance Committee can amend the budget and make changes, but we are pleased with what we see so far. We also know that on average across the nation that 85% of what a governor proposes actually stays in the budget.

What we are pleased about:

  • An expansion of the Earned Release Program, which allows inmates early release from prison when they complete assigned programming. This could potentially allow 900-1000 individuals to be released early.
  • An increase in funding of almost $8 million in the Transitional Jobs Program over the next 2 years. This program provides employment opportunities for recently released individuals so they can begin developing their employment portfolio and integrate back into the community.
  • An increase from $7 million to $15 million to fund Treatment and Diversion programs to help keep people out of jails and prisons and have them enrolled in community-based treatment programs.
  • An expansion of ATR (Alternatives to Revocations) programs that are designed to not send people back to prison (a revocation) without committing a new crime. Another way of “decarcerating” our prison system.

Madison Action Day

Madison Action Day is coming up on April 15 and will be the perfect time to let your legislators know that we want the funding for these programs to remain in the state budget.

 

Demolishing the School-to-Prison Pipeline in Wisconsin

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

WISDOM

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

Date: 
Tuesday, January 19, 2021 - 5:30pm
Location: 
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

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Date: 
Monday, February 1, 2021 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm
Date: 
Monday, March 1, 2021 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm
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Monday, April 5, 2021 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm
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Monday, May 3, 2021 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm
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Monday, June 7, 2021 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm
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Monday, July 5, 2021 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm
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Monday, August 2, 2021 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm
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Monday, September 6, 2021 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm
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Monday, October 4, 2021 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm
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Monday, November 1, 2021 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm
Date: 
Monday, December 6, 2021 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm
Location: 
Zoom Meeting

Meets the first Monday of each month from 6:00-7:30 pm.

Now meeting by Zoom teleconference. Leave us a message at https://esther-foxvalley.org/prtf to be added to the mailing list or receive the Zoom link.

“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

Posted in
Date: 
Monday, January 4, 2021 - 6:00pm - 7:30pm
Location: 
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

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

WISDOM

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

Posted in

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

Date: 
Tuesday, December 8, 2020 - 6:00pm
Location: 
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 david.liners1@gmail.com 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.
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