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Restore our Communities: Restorative Justice for Wisconsin

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David LinersDavid Liners, State Director for WISDOM, will be speaking in Appleon on March 2, 2016 under sponsorship of the Noonhour Philosophers program of Trinity Lutheran Church, Appleton. His topic will be ROC Wisconsin, an ongoing project of WISDOM, working alongside its affiliates and partners (including EXPO—Ex-Prisoners Organizing), to reform the criminal justice system in our state so that it helps to build up our communities instead of tearing them down.

  • Wednesday, March 2, 2016
  • 12:00-1:00 p.m.
  • Trinity Lutheran Church
    209 S. Allen St., Appleton
  • Free and open to all; no advance registration required

Reform Now: Solitary Confinement

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Title screen of solitary confinement videoOn October 1, 2014, members of WISDOM, Wisconsin’s statewide network of faith-based social justice organizations, gathered on the Capitol steps in Madison for an extraordinary event calling attention to the abusive overuse of solitary confinement in Wisconsin’s prisons, including practices that most of the world considers torture. (Click on the image to view Tim Coursen's video of this event.)

Free film - Dead Man Walking - at Appleton Public Library November 12

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Poster for Dead Man WalkingThe movie Dead Man Walking, based on the celebrated book by Sister Helen Prejean, will be shown at the Appleton Public Library on November 12. Sister Prejean will be the keynote speaker at ESTHERs tenth anniversary banquet on December 7.

The film stars Sean Penn and Susan Sarandon, who won the Academy Award for best actress for her portrayal of Sister Helen. Dead Man Walking is exciting and moving, and the experiences portrayed in the movie were the beginning of Sister Helen’s lifelong commitment to campaigning against the death penalty and for humane treatment of those who are incarcerated. Mark your calendar.

  • Place: Appleton Public Library
  • Date: Wednesday, November 12, 2014
  • Time: 4:00 PM

Public Hearing & Candidate Forum on Prison Reform

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Inmate in a cellTell your legislators what you think! ESTHER’s Treatment Instead of Prison (TIP) task force is sponsoring a candidate forum and public hearing on Sept. 23 in Neenah. At the last forum, legislators came together for true dialogue around the table. The public gets to hear and better understand legislators’ positions on issues of prison reform. If you have a question or story to share, this is your chance!

Help spread the word; download and share the flyer here (PDF;1.6 meg)

Sr. Helen Prejean Coming to Fox Valley

Sister Helen Prejean speaking into microphone

Mark your calendars!

We are thrilled to announce that Sr. Helen Prejean, author of Dead Man Walking and tireless advocate for humane treatment of incarcerated persons, will be the keynote speaker at ESTHER’s 2014 Annual Banquet on December 7th. Celebrating 10 Years of Justice, ESTHER invites the entire community to hear this compelling speaker, reminisce with friends, find holiday treasures in the silent auction, and look ahead to ESTHER's next 10 years.

  • Sunday, December 7 (no Packer Game that day)
  • 5:00-8:30 PM
  • Radisson Paper Valley, 333 W College Ave, Appleton

 

Another $1.5 Million for Treatment Alternatives!

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The state legislature recently approved a $1.5 million annual increase to the TAD (Treatment Alternatives and Diversions) fund. This amount builds on the $1.5 million increase that was approved in the summer of 2013. In the past year, funding for treatment alternatives has gone from $1 million per year to $4 million per year. Based on the past performance of TAD programs, we can conservatively estimate that the $3 million/year increase will result in:

“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.

CJCC Endorses TAD

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Office of Justice Assistance LogoActing in early May, the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council of Wisconsin (CJCC) passed a resolution supporting the expansion of Treatment Alternatives and Diversion (TAD) programs as good policy and a good investment. It was the first policy recommendation the 20-member council has made since Gov. Walker created it in 2012. Expansion of TAD programs is a key goal of the 11X15 Campaign being promoted by ESTHER and other WISDOM affiliates.

Wisconsin leads nation in black male incarceration rates

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Shocking facts released in new study on Wisconsin's mass incarceration

 

Wisconsin has the highest black male incarceration rate in the United States, according to the 2010 decennial census. The rate (1 out of 8 African American men ages 18-64 were in state prisons and local jails in April 2010) is nearly double that of the nation as a whole and 32% higher than the next worst state (Oklahoma). The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Employment and Training Institute released a new study on Wisconsin’s Mass Incarceration of African American Males: Workforce Challenges for 2013.

The prison population in Wisconsin has more than tripled since 1990, fueled by increased government funding for drug enforcement (rather than treatment) and prison construction, three-strike rules, mandatory minimum sentence laws, truth-in-sentencing replacing judicial discretion in setting punishments, concentrated policing in minority communities, and state incarceration for minor probation and supervision violations.  Particularly impacted were African American males, with the 2010 U.S. Census showing Wisconsin having the highest black male incarceration rate in the nation. In Milwaukee County over half of African American men in their 30s have served time in state prison.

 

Link to one page executive summary

Link to full report

 

Inspiration Marks Madison Action Day 2013

Madison Action Day Podium on Capitol StapeMore than 900 People of Faith United for Justice from all around Wisconsin – including 80 from the ESTHER – traveled to Madison on March 14 to bear witness to the importance of social justice and to ask our legislators to support 1) funding for treatment instead of prison (11x15); 2) public transit; and 3) accepting federal funds to expand Medicare.

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