Prison Expansion: How and Why We Fight

There is increasing bipartisan agreement in the state of Wisconsin behind prison expansion, and the decisions will be made in the budget process. The governor’s budget has already proposed expanded funding for a new youth prison, and expansions to 7 other facilities. The Republican legislature has been trying to build a new prison outside Green Bay for years.

This is the third in our series of articles about how to fight this prison expansion. In the first, we talked about where and when the budget fight would go down. The second tackled who and what we were up against. This one we take on the how and why of fighting prison expansion.

 

Prison Expansion: How We Fight

The conventional approach to public hearings is to be respectful, make your stories personal, appeal to the conscience of the politicians on the committee to fund beneficial programs and defund harmful programs. Regarding the prison system, that means pleading with them to fund treatment, alternatives, and diversion (TAD), mental health care, and community support, instead of building a new prison. Continue reading “Prison Expansion: How and Why We Fight”

Prison Expansion: Where and When We Fight

The Hodag Dome, in Rhinelander.

Wisconsin is currently going through its biennial budget process, and both political parties have agreed to expand the prison system. Wisconsin already incarcerates an alarming portion of its population. Many states with higher prison populations, like Louisianna, Michigan, Oklahoma, Texas, and California have enacted policies to reduce their prison systems. Wisconsin is on the opposite track.

Over the last year the DOC population has declined to the lowest point in two decades. Unfortunately, that decline is a temporary response to the pandemic, and is mostly caused by delays in the courts. When Wisconsin “bounces back” and the economy reopens, we should expect the prison system’s maw to reopen as well.

The budget proposed by Governor Evers has been characterized as a liberal wish-list, but that list doesn’t include decarceration. Indeed, his capital budget spends $119 million expanding prison. Meanwhile, we should expect the Republican budget to include a much larger expansion, including the construction of a new maximum security facility.

Left to their own devices, politicians from both parties are eager to raise Wisconsin’s capacity to incarcerate. Continue reading “Prison Expansion: Where and When We Fight”

Sarah Cooper’s COVID Spreader Shakedowns

DAI boss Sarah Cooper

Two weeks ago AbolishMKE broke a story about cell searches at the Racine prison (RCI) preceding new COVID cases and a quarantine. We sent the story to reporters (only Wisconsin Examiner seems to have picked it up) and asked readers to contact DOC officials demanding an end to cell searches, or “shakedowns.”

Sarah Cooper, head of the Division of Adult Institutions (DAI) responded instead with more and worse shakedowns. According to a message from someone held at RCI, staff pulled everyone out of their cells at 9:30pm on March 5 for a surprise shakedown. Captives were brought to the gym and forced to sit together on the bleachers “thigh to thigh” for two hours while guards went through the cell block touching everyone’s property. Continue reading “Sarah Cooper’s COVID Spreader Shakedowns”

COVID Spreader Shakedown at Racine CI

Warden Paul Kemper standing outside his prison.

Staff at the prison in Racine (RCI) are forcing captives to congregate in the gym, and then going cell to cell spreading covid19 by tossing everyone’s property. They do not change gloves between cells, and at least one of the tossed units has gone on isolation quarantine.

Coronavirus is still present in Racine, and at RCI. The pandemic hasn’t magically stopped spreading via surfaces, so guards rifling through everything in an infected but asymptomatic person’s cell will carry virus particles to every cell they shake down subsequently. Read the details about the shakedowns in the message we got from someone held at RCI at the end of this post. Continue reading “COVID Spreader Shakedown at Racine CI”

New Years Eve Noise Demo Outside Oshkosh CI

Oshkosh CI has had over 1,000 positive COVID19 test results, this is the second highest in the DOC system.

Between March and November of 2020, ten people at OSCI died. The DOC has reported 23 deaths from COVID19 across the system, but more than that have very likely died of coronavirus while undiagnosed. There are 1,494 people currently held in OSCI risking their lives daily. Continue reading “New Years Eve Noise Demo Outside Oshkosh CI”

Free Our Loved Ones Action

We joined the candlelight vigil outside Governor Evers’ house organized by MOSES to commemorate those killed by the Governor’s neglect. Around fifty people showed up to the posh lakeside neighborhood, blocking the street, singing and speaking about the hardships imprisoned loved ones experience and the governor’s lack of action to prevent these deaths. Continue reading “Free Our Loved Ones Action”