Wisconsin’s racist legislature is at it again—this time they’re coming for the parental rights of incarcerated (and formerly incarcerated) people.
Assembly Bill 627 aims to terminate the parental rights based on the parent’s incarceration status. As recently as October 2021, research has shown that Wisconsin has the highest incarceration rates for black people in the country. Given this information, is there any other way to interpret this law? It’s clearly yet another attack on Black parents and Black youth.
As with many racist misconceptions held by those who uphold and defend white supremacy, the absentee Black parent has been shown to be a myth and a falsehood meant to delegitimize the pain Black families experience when they’re broken up by state violence. This is nothing more than a continuation of the antebellum practice of separating families.
This bill was introduced and co-sponsored by a host of republicans who’s constituencies are designed to exclude BIPoC by way of racist gerrymandering and voter restriction laws. Though it is unlikely to be signed into law by Governor Evers, it’s introduction and co-sponsorship makes clear what kinds of oppressive attacks the state intends to take once the governorship swings back to the GOP.
Having a strong connection to friends and family has been consistently linked to a reduction in recidivism. But, the state and DOC consistently put policies into place that only exacerbate the problems in our society, ruin the lives of everyone entangled in their web of corruption and perpetuate violence and harm.
On December 1, 2021, a handful of collaborators with abolishMKE went to the capitol in Madison to speak against this bill. Anticipating that the public would speak against this bill, the committee scheduled it for the end of the session, making anyone who opposes it wait all day. Nearly 3/4 of the people who signed up to speak ended up being unable to wait due to this scheduling decision. This tactic has consistently employed by these committee’s so they can ignore the public. It’s just another example of how they don’t care what we want or what we think, they get into power and do what they can to ruin all of our lives.
“Municipal courts, as we are fond of saying, are not broken. They are a coercive apparatus perfectly suited to limiting the mobility (physical, economic, and political) of racialized subjects. They will produce what they are designed to produce until they are abolished.” – Brendan Roediger
Milwaukee exercised its option to create a municipal court in 1975. Since that time, Milwaukee Municipal Court has played an important role in legitimizing police, expanding the scope of the legal punishment system, and has extracted hundreds of millions of dollars from Milwaukee residents, primarily Black residents who are experiencing poverty. In 2015, several of Milwaukee’s Common Council members publicly considered abolishing the municipal court.This piece will explore the harms perpetrated by the municipal court and show that Milwaukee Municipal Court must be abolished.
This is the last in a three-part series about closing the illegal youth prisons in Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake (LH/CL). Part one outlined the best, fastest way to close these prisons. Part two re-examined the sordid tale of compromises that left the prisons open, and the millions of dollars the democrats are trying to spend on new ones. In this part, we’ll take a look at what could be funded with those millions instead.
The actual needs of Milwaukee youth
Democrats are trying to spend $42-46 million on a new prison in Milwaukee county that would cage 36 children. At the low end, that’s $1.17 million each child. Last February there were 22 kids from Milwaukee county in LH/CL who this new prison would be built for. That’s about $2 million each child. That’s ridiculous.
This is the second in a three-part series about closing the illegal youth prisons in Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake (LH/CL). Part one outlined the best and fastest way to close these prisons: by eliminating the Serious Juvenile Offender Program (SJOP) and adult sentencing of youths. These bad laws were inspired by the racist “superpredator” myth which requires the state to lock some kids in extra harmful “type 1” facilities. In part two, we’re going to examine why that didn’t happen, and the foolishness that happened instead.
On October 13, governor Evers almost kind of started making an investment in alternatives to state violence in Milwaukee. He came here to announce $45 million from Wisconsin’s recovery act (ARPA) funds would go into “safer communities and violence prevention.”
Unfortunately, as with his pardon announcements, this is another of his misleading headlines. Behind the headlines, nearly half ($20 million) of the allocated funds are going to supporting victim services through the department of justice. We know them from their work obstructing the release of old law prisoners. That is not violence prevention.
The Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake youth prisons (LH/CL) in Irma, WI have been illegally confining children since July 1, 2021. More than seventy percent of the kids are Black, and nearly half are from Milwaukee county. Starting in 2010, kids in these prisons successfully exposed horrific abuse practices by staff. By 2017, the kids and their advocates had drawn investigations from the media, the state, and federal agencies. They built so much momentum that the legislature passed and the governor signed Wisconsin act 185, which required that both prisons close by January 1, 2021.
Unfortunately, when that date approached, rather than closing the prisons, politicians passed a new law pushing closure back to July 1. The second deadline passed this summer, and the prisons were not closed. No new law extended the deadline. The state just continued operating illegally.
Which sends a pretty clear statement: Wisconsin politicians are willing to ignore and violate state law when it comes to abusing Black kids from Milwaukee.
Republicans have long claimed to be the party of small government. Their policies almost always tend to revolve around opposition to the dreaded “government overreach,” a key talking point of theirs. Nowadays, they stand united against anything that has to do with vaccines & masks. Historically, they’ve opposed seat belt laws & taxing cigarettes, among other widely popular policy proposals. They stand for individual liberty!
That is, unless it is your right not to be kidnapped and put in a cage or murdered in the street. Republicans stand firmly behind the armed gangs of terrorists that patrol our communities and “keep us in line.” On its face, a believer in small government supporting police reeks of hypocrisy. Until you consider that these believers in small government are the ideological descendants of slave owners and genociders and that the function of the police is to maintain white supremacy and disrupt worker collaboration & unionization. They are class traitors plain and simple. Which is why “small government” conservatives support them. They’re pawns in the game against the poor.
…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.
Milwaukee Common Council is having their annual session for public testimony on the budget on Monday, October 4, at 6:30pm. This is the single opportunity the government creates specifically to get yelled at by residents about what budget priorities should be.
This year the hearing will be virtual, due to the pandemic. Register online now! Registration closes at 4:30 PM on Monday.