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Building community, sharing hope, and standing for justice since 2004

Immigration Lawyers to share impact of reform with farmers / farmworkers

ESTHER is hosting Grzeca Law Group in two presentations on Sunday, June 23rd.  Starting at 10:30 we will meet with farm owners and supervisors to discuss and share the impact of legislation on employment for dairy and agricuture businesses.  At Noon a presentation will be held in Spanish for farm workers to share and answer questions about what is being proposed for immigration reform and how it will impact immigrant workers in the dairy and agriculture industry.

Below is the flyer for each of the events.  Click here to download the Farmer/English flyer and the Farmworker/Spanish flyer.

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.

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.

ESTHER's New Office

ESTHER has moved into new office space at First United Methodist Church in Neenah. Many thanks to St. Therese Catholic Church in Appleton for hosting us during the last year. We’re also looking for a used copy machine. If you have one, please contact Stephanie at 920-216-0891 or email Penny at Update: On February 26, we will become the proud owners of a used copy machine which has recently been removed from service at the East Central Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission and donated to ESTHER. We promise not to over-use it (we want to save trees), but it will definitely help us in our work. Thank you, ECWRPC!

Changes Coming for Immigrants

Hispanic faces on US mapPresident Obama has pledged to work for immigration reform, including a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants, and the results of the last elections have convinced most Republicans that some reform is needed. Even so, the outcome is far from assured.

The administration has implemented some of the proposals of the Dream Act and has recently announced a policy change that will allow undocumented immigrants who are married to citizens to avoid having to return to their home countries to apply for visas as spouses of citizens.   

Locally, to provide more information in the Fox Valley about immigrants’ experiences, ESTHER has been tapped to finish developing and test a Latino Simulation (similar in concept to a poverty simulation). The potential value of such a resource grew out of investigations by ThedaCare's Community Health Action Team (CHAT), which held an Immigration Plunge during the fall of 2011. CHAT then developed the concept of the simulation and sponsored its initial development. Nan Gutierrez has been named project leader and will be working with ESTHER’s Immigration Task Force to complete the project in the next few months.

Watch our Facebook page ( this website for updates on immigration reform.

A Message from ESTHER's Incoming President

Penny  RobinsonAs president of ESTHER beginning in January, I am excited about our work ahead, because I have seen the successes of faith-based community organizing. I once felt almost powerless to change any of the problems of our communities, but Gamaliel’s leadership training and several years of ESTHER experience have taught me how to develop relationships and work with others to bring about change. ESTHER will continue to grow and advance our three main issues:

  1. The 11 X 15 campaign for prison reform            
  2. Immigration reform and building relationships that reflect the diversity of our community.
  3. RTA legislation and a steady funding source for public transit.

—Penny Robinson

Nov 30 Presentation of HIA Moves 11x15 Forward

People listening to results of HIA study - November 30, 2012Results released on November 29 of a year-long Health Impact Assessment conducted by Human Impact Partners and WISDOM, with funding from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, show that increasing funding for Treatment Alternative Diversion (TAD) programs in Wisconsin to $75 million annually will create savings for the state by reducing the number of prisoners, and will make our communities safer at the same time by reducing the number of crimes committed.

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