Governor Tony Evers could: 

The governor, surrounded by his prisons.

…solve Wisconsin’s spiraling prison population crisis!

On the campaign trail, Tony said he would cut Wisconsin’s prison population in half.  Instead, it slowly, but steadily rose under his administration until the courts closed due to COVID19. Now it’s rising again, and faster. 

…pardon and release elderly and low risk people from prison!

The Wisconsin state constitution gives the governor very broad pardon power. Tony loves to talk about how he’s pardoned so many people, but NONE of those pardons are of people currently serving sentences. A fact that he cowers away from. He chose pardon criteria that exclude everyone until 5 years after they completed their sentence. That will restores some rights to some individuals, but do nothing to reduce incarceration.

Baron and Beverly Walker, who needed the exposure of an award-winning documentary to get Baron out of the old law trap. Unfortunately, DA John Chisholm worked hard to ensure that his release would not set a precedent to free others. 

…free people sentenced under the old law!

The passage of a “truth in sentencing’ law in 1999 left 2,000 people trapped by the parole board under the “old law”. Parole commission chair John Tate II works for governor Evers. Tony could tell him and his staff to stop searching out pretexts to defer people, and grant releases. 

….free mentally ill people to get them treatment, rather than confinement!

According to the DOC’s own numbers, 40% of their captives have mental health issues. A DOC psychologist whistleblower exposed manipulation of diagnoses to artificially reduce those numbers. The DOC has had a mental healthcare staffing crisis since at least 2015. People in crisis are routinely tortured and driven to suicide. Tony Evers can use his pardon and commutation powers to move people out of prison and into treatment. 

…suspend the failed war on drugs in Wisconsin!

It is very clear that a majority of Wisconsinites want marijuana legalized. It is equally clear that the legislature will not do what the majority want, on this or many other issues. Tony has the clear power to commute drug sentences, at least marijuana sentences, which would effectively enact the will of the people. 

Early campaign poster for CLOSEmsdf.

…close MSDF!

The Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility is a dungeon in downtown Milwaukee. It has no outdoor recreation, no sunlight, poor ventilation, and 20-24 hour lockdown in small cells. More than 18 people have died there since it opened in 2001. This prison was built to hold people who did not commit crimes, but merely violated supervision rules. Tony is the boss of the prison system, which includes community supervision. He can veto bills that make things worse but he must also require staff there to change policies and practices that put people in MSDF. 

…expand earned release, and improve re-entry services and opportunities!

Wisconsin state law puts a lot of limits on early release, and the legislature refuses to act, but Tony’s prison secretary Kevin Carr has options which he’s talked about, but not fully put into practice. Even conservative organizations are calling for re-entry and supervision reform, but Tony Evers chose not to replace Lance Wiersma, who ran that division under Scott Walker. 

…end crimeless revocations!

Crimeless revocations are when community supervision agents send someone back to prison for rule violations, rather than breaking laws. Before the pandemic, crimeless revocations accounted for 40% of prison admissions each year. They are on the rise again. Tony has the power to control, supervision policies, including eliminating crimeless revocations.

…reduce the number of people on extended supervision!

Wisconsin’s prison system (DOC) doesn’t count the time people spend on supervision (known as “vested street time”) if they later get a revocation. This keeps people cycling between prison and community supervision for extremely long periods. The courts have determined that state law “unambiguously allows the department to determine the amount of sentence credit for time successfully served”. Tony can tell the DOC to determine differently; to count vested street time. That will drastically reduce the number of people cycling through the supervision bureaucracy. As governor, he can also pardon any supervision sentence. 

…end the super-exploitation of prison captives!

In 2015, Wisconsin passed Act 355, which allows the DOC to take money from prisoners for fees and restitution. As with vested street time, the DOC is able to determine how much money they will take from people, and they take all that they can. They are also trying to increase price gouging by creating a commissary monopoly. Tony can reign in Kevin Carr, the former cop he made DOC secretary, to stop this extreme exploitation.  

Staff at Columbia CI strapping someone into a restraint chair, October 2018.

…end solitary confinement and prison torture practices!

Wisconsin prisons use solitary confinement, chemical sprays, tasers, and restraint chairs to control people, especially people experiencing mental health crises. These practices inspired large hunger strikes in 2016, and staff responded by force-feeding and killing protesters, driving them to suicide. These torture practices continue under the Evers administration, and the use of solitary confinement is expanding. 

…increase transparency and raise the alarm about Wisconsin’s humanitarian prison crisis!

The DOC’s committee on inmate and youth deaths (COIYD) hides information from the public about how and why people die in the prisons. We have been waiting on the DOC records office since August 17 for basic data on deaths in Wisconsin prisons. If Tony (or any democrat) really wanted action from lawmakers on decarceration, they could demand information from the DOC about deaths, solitary, suicide watch, restraints, and other conditions in WI prisons, and then release it to the public to expose this humanitarian crisis and rally people toward change.

…close Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake!

It took a secret probe and a raid by federal investigators to find the full truth about children being tortured and driven to suicide at Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake back in 2015. That exposure got the legislature to pass a law that was supposed to close these prisons. Instead, they’ve been operating illegally since July 1, and monitors find that abuse continues. Tony can issue pardons of the sentencing program that sends kids to these prisons and empty them out. Instead, he’s trying to spend $1.28 million per kid on a new youth prison. 

Staff at Copper Lake pepper spray a young woman, April, 2016

Tony Evers has the power to take action 

These actions all fall clearly under his power as governor. He can do any of them regardless of what the gerrymandered, racist, illegitimate, death cult legislature thinks, says, or wants. 

He is choosing and maintaining Wisconsin’s humanitarian crisis. 

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