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Prison Reform

“Voices From Inside: Wisconsin Prisoners Speak Out”

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Cover of Voices from Inside“Voices From Inside: Wisconsin Prisoners Speak Out” is now available. The book contains excerpts from some of the hundreds of letters WISDOM has received from inmates since the start of the 11×15 campaign. The letters touch upon a variety of themes, and each of them reminds us that prisoners are human beings with hopes, dreams, regrets and questions. The letters are accompanied by reflections from judges, bishops, pastors and others, as well as important facts about the criminal justice system.

Books can be obtained from any local WISDOM group or from the WISDOM office—3195 S. Superior St., #310, Milwaukee, WI 53207. A $5 donation per book is suggested.

League of Women Voters Endorses Treatment Alternatives

The Wisconsin League of Women Voters has endorsed a central aim of WISDOM’s 11X15 campaign—increased use of alternatives to incarceration for non-violent offenders. In a memo sent to LWV leaders state-wide on March 8, Executive Director Andrea Kaminski asks League members to contact their state Senators and Assembly Representatives to urge expansion of Treatment Alternatives and Diversion funding, instead of increased funding for jails and prisons.

Focusing on Our State Budget

Figure depicting state budget areaOur state legislature will soon take up the budget for the next biennium. The budget is where the rubber meets the road. Without funding to support programs, all we have is talk. Currently, ESTHER is focusing on securing adequate funding in two areas. Will you join us in advocating in support of these budget priorities?

Public Transit

Transit is important in our community to get people to jobs, medical appointments, school, shopping, community events, and more. The Wisconsin Transportation Finance and Policy Commission has recommended investing an additional $36.3 million annually over ten years to strengthen public transit in our state [click to read the report]. We support this recommendation.

We also call for restoration of transit funds cut from the state budget during the 2010-11 biennium. Restoring this 10% cut would bring the state's public transportation budget back to the 2009-10 level. Without the restoration, communities in the Fox Valley and throughout the state will begin feeling the effects in July of this year.

Prison Reform

Treatment Alternative Diversion (TAD) programs have proven their value and their cost-effectiveness in Wisconsin and around the country. Following the recommendation of the recent Health Impact Assessment (read more at prayforjusticeinwi.org), we are calling for $75 million to be appropriated for these programs.

Results of the Health Impact Assessment indicate that such an investment would reduce costs, reduce crime, increase recovery from addictions and mental illness, strengthen families, and improve economic opportunity. Prison is about four times more costly than TAD programs such as alcohol, drug, and mental health treatment courts.

Join us at Madison Action Day [click to learn more] on March 14 to help show your support for these prioritries.

JOIN US! March 14th People of Faith, Madison Action Day

ESTHER members marching to the Capitol in MadisonPeople of Faith United for Justice is a day-long gathering to learn, discuss, pray and take action on justice issues such as prison reform, public transit, affordable housing, transitional jobs, and more. We gather at Bethel Lutheran Church in Madison for plenary sessions and lunch, followed by a march to the capitol and meetings with legislators.

Treatment Alternatives and Diversion Funding, the focus for 11x15, is one of the issues this day. Funding for transportation is another.

Read more, and then register to join us! click to register online | click to download registration flyer

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