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.
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”
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.