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”

Wisconsin’s Republican Death Cult

Senator Van Wanggard, apparently experiencing the throes of death cult rapture.

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”

Sad Tony and the Proposed Budget that Can’t

"I'm not about to cry!"
Tony Evers, tryin’ hard during his little speech for the DNC.

Last week, Governor Tony Evers introduced his new state budget plan, and, as far as the prison system is concerned, it didn’t matter at all. There are some decent provisions included, like legalizing marijuana, expanding TAD funding and closing youth prisons without requiring the construction of new ones, but the proposal falls short of closing prisons and our other defund the DOC demands.

Continue reading “Sad Tony and the Proposed Budget that Can’t”

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”

Don’t get it twisted, Governor Evers doesn’t need our help

Tony Evers and Mandela Barnes held a virtual town hall to discuss the 2021-23 budget in regards to prison and policing on December 8th. He and members of his administration lied to participants and muted people who objected to those lies, undermining their branding of the event as a “people’s budget listening session”. More than 250 people were on the call. These participants were put into seven or more break out rooms to facilitate the collection of public comments. Continue reading “Don’t get it twisted, Governor Evers doesn’t need our help”

Defund the Prisons (abridged version)

Wisconsin prison boss Kevin Carr has both publicly and privately requested that prisoner advocates and anti-prison organizers help him expand funding for programming and mental health treatment in the DOC’s budget.

We emphatically reject his call for help.

Continue reading “Defund the Prisons (abridged version)”