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.
This is part of an ongoing series where we attend the monthly staff meeting of the parole commission and make notes available to the public and to captives held under the old law (sentenced before 2000).
September’s meeting was on Wednesday the 1st. It was attended by commission chair, John Tate II, all three commissioners, and two records associates. The public portion was about 20 minutes long, and there was a “no action” case they discussed in closed session afterward.
Tate started the meeting similarly to the last few meetings, bringing up a few tweaks that suggest he is making gradual changes to the parole commission process. First, he indicated that parole commissioners should use third person rather than first person language when describing their choices. So, rather than saying for example, “I recommend a two month defer” they should say “the commissioner recommends a two month defer.” Tate said this “better indicates that these are the agency’s choices, not individuals.”
On Monday August 30, following a news conference on transit, some prison abolitionists confronted Wisconsin governor Tony Evers. Evers’ aides ushered him away and tried to defend the governor’s policies. Here is video of the encounter, and our response to his statements.
When we spoke last Monday, you ignored well-founded criticism and dodged public accountability on prison atrocities by telling me you wanted a statement in writing. You instructed that we send you some resources to verify what we are saying.
Well, here’s our response, in writing, per your request:
This is an audio version of “You have it in writing. (An open letter to Tony Evers)” published at ABOLISHmke.com on September 6, 2021.
Music thanks to snag. snagmke.bandcamp.com
ABOLISHmke, news and analysis from a bad place. We write from an anti-authoritarian perspective on police, prisons, and more in the so-called state of Wisconsin.
We will publish anything sent to us that conforms to our editorial standards for authenticity, conflict, and rigor. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions: abolishmke [at] protonmail [dot] com.
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.