“Assembly Bill 258 is ramming its way through with the support of Representatives Spiros, Armstrong, Brantjen, and Ortiz-Velez. This bill sucks cuz it gives the cops more of the money than they already have to do stupid shit that also sucks. So if these are your representatives you should call them and tell them this bill sucks, and that they suck and that they owe you money for wasting your own time with this phone call.
That’s the article, see you next time!”
Well that was the article I had written, but we sent it to our editors at the Abolitionist Archives HQ and they sent it back to tell us we should include more information and a better detailed plan of action. So let’s see what we can do with that bit of feedback!
Assembly Bill 258 is the Assembly version of the Senate Bill 124 (Which we talk about here) The one about COP, or Community Oriented Policing, houses. From what we can tell from a few minutes of Googling it seems like this idea exists in its current form based on a program the City of Racine started in the 90’s. The first house was named after Thelma Orr, a lady who made it her business to turn neighborhood kids against each other by recruiting them to join the fuzz. Continue reading “Funds for Fires: the COP House Grant Bill”
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”
At last month’s Parole Commission staff meeting, the Chair, John Tate II made an interesting statement about the number of people the commission had granted releases to in the last year. Last Saturday, April 3, was the National Freedom Movement’s ParoleWatch2021 event, and the commission’s next monthly meeting is Wednesday morning (you can attend at 10 am via zoom here). so this seems like a good time to go in-depth about Tate’s work on the commission.
John Tate II came into his role as a reformer. He is a very diplomatic man and he’s in a delicate situation. Some who know and trust him believe he is doing the best he can in that situation, but anyone who is suffering, or knows and loves someone suffering in prison under the old law, knows that John Tate’s best has not been good enough.
If justice, fairness, reason, or any higher minded values held sway in Wisconsin, everyone serving under the old law, all 2800 of them, would be released by now. Organizers with FFUP, WISDOM, and the ACLU have been fighting to release people sentenced under the old law for years. The 53206 documentary featured the intransigent corruption of the parole commission in regards to one family: Baron and Beverly Walker. The commission and two-faced Milwaukee DA John Chisolm caved to pressure in Baron’s case, but they were very careful to ensure that his release would not create a precedent for the thousands of others in his same circumstances.
Politicians in Madison want to build a prison, maybe two prisons. They want more cages in this state to hold people in. The leadership of both parties have prison-expansion plans in the upcoming budget, and if we do not fight back, these plans will go forward. More of our friends and neighbors will live behind bars. More people will suffer in solitary confinement. More will face racial or gender harassment, terror, negligence and abuse from prison guards as well as from medical and psychological staff.
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.
State Senator Lena Taylor is a polarizing figure in our community, and not in the sense that every politician in our country is polarized along party lines. Surely Republicans don’t like her (although after Thursday she may be looking to change this) but an increasing swath of Milwaukee’s “left” has a fair share of issues with her as well. But she does have her fans – I can recall several public calls to see her likeness muralized after showing up to a few marches during the 2020 uprising.
On Thursday March 18th at 10am at UWM’s Fireside Lounge State Senator Lena Taylor along with Committee Chair Van Wanggaard and some other boring republicans held a get together with their cop friends, where they all got paid to whine for 3 hours about how hard their jobs are, before spending their last hour at worst dismissing public feedback, and at best outright ignoring it. For their part, the two delegates from the city had some pushback on SB117.
Lena Taylor has teamed up with Van Wanggaard and some other death cult Republicans to sell a handful of “reform” bills that empower, fund, and legitimize the police. Oh, and there’s one that says cops shouldn’t rape the people they kidnap.
The rest of these are trash.
The public hearing on these bills will be, unexpectedly in Milwaukee at the UWM Fireside lounge on Thursday March 18th, at 10AM. Spending time in a room full of cops and gross anti-masking politicians is probably a bad idea, but anyone who wants to risk it, here’s the information.
Or, you can contact Senator Lena Taylor and tell her to withdraw support from the bills, especially SB117 and SB 124: Sen.Taylor@legis.wisconsin.gov 414-342-7176
In the meantime, we looked through Lena’s trash bills so you won’t have to. Here they are in order from “totally fucked” to “wait, how is that not already a law?”
We need to talk about the Wisconsin Republican Party’s fascination with killing Black people.
On a national level, the way Republicans lined up behind Trump led to even conservative columnist Jennifer Rubin describing the party as a cult. When the pandemic spread and Trump led his people onto a path of denial and conspiracy theory, Rubin got more specific: calling the party a death cult.
Republicans in Wisconsin epitomize that death cult zeal–with a particular racial focus. From their reactions to the last year of pandemic and protest, to the upcoming budget process, the policy aims of the Republican Party consistently pursue the deaths of Black people. Their obsession most recently manifested in the state senate’s passage of Senate Bill 8, which explicitly denies covid19 vaccines to Wisconsin’s highest risk population: prison captives. Continue reading “Wisconsin’s Republican Death Cult”
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”
On March 19, 2020 a prison doctor brought the coronavirus pandemic into the Waupun prison (WCI). As we approach the one year anniversary of this event, we want to review how Wisconsin has handled COVID in prison. Unfortunately, thanks to opaque bureaucracy and the unaccountable prison system (DOC), it’s impossible to make an accurate assessment.