Wisconsin Prison Watch – March 2009 Newsletter

Friends,

Prisons are in the news! There’s a lot of press and a lot of discussion, and not just the usual nonsense stories like the State Journal ran about “Anything Can Be A Weapon, In Prison”, and “State Plans Hospice Beds in Every Prison”. We emailed the author of those two pieces… see page 4.

The truth about the decaying, overcrowded, ineffective and, costly prison system are big news. Most of you have been reading the papers and watching on TV, so we won’t repeat what everyone already heard. But for a quick synopsis…

In early January, Mead & Hunt came with a study that recommended the DOC spend 1.2 billion to build and upgrade the system.

Then, news of yet another study by the Justice Reinvestment Strategies that will, when it’s finished, tell us what we already know. THE SYSTEM IS BROKEN!!!

Then, Governor Doyle announced his budget including some provisions for releasing non-violent offenders.

Then, the PEW Institute came with a study indicating that one in every thirty-one citizens of Wisconsin is under the heel of the State.

So now, due to monetary constraints, the Governor sounds like a progressive on prison policy. Rick Raemisch sounds like a born-again reformer and even the prison guards’ union has endorsed the early release scheme. It’s scary to be on the same side of an issue with those criminals.

Your editor joined a delegation of PAW members on a lobbying day in Madison. We met with Senators, Representatives and members of Governor Doyle’s staff. Our primary focus was objecting to the reappointment of Alfonso Graham and we used the Governor’s budget proposal and the new studies to assert our view that keeping men locked up, doing dead time, is a stupid waste of money and lives. We didn’t say it like that, but they got the message.

We made sure the Governor’s staff understood that we are opposed to the idea of Al Graham as head of the new proposed commission that will review all prisoners for early release. We see a golden opportunity to say good bye to the Fonz when a new commission is organized, melding the Parole Commission and an Early Release program for TIS prisoners.

One important facet of this coming struggle, and one that every politico mentioned is that they need political cover, meaning that they need people to be loud and vocal in their support of the Governor’s proposals. They will be getting

flack from the right-wing, including politicians, the press, the cops, and DAs. Those of us who agree with the Governor’s proposal must be loud and clear in support.

PAW will be attending some of the Joint Finance Committee hearings being held around the state, with signs, press interviews, press conferences, and testimony to the Committee members. We urge all concerned citizens to write to your representative and to the Joint Finance Committee to let them know you support Governor Doyle’s proposal to release non-violent offenders. Contact info on page 5.

The reasons for the proposed changes are budgetary shortfalls. Fear mongering politicians and “successful” DAs have driven the budget over a cliff. They’ve built their careers on the backs of the poor and minorities and this ugly truth must be exposed at every opportunity.

Since this “change of heart” is not based on moral or ethical grounds it is not likely that we are witnessing a turn towards a more progressive criminal (in)justice policy or a more rehabilitative prison policy. What we are likely to see is further “cost cutting” which could mean anything to the DOC. One thing for sure, we won’t see a reduction in the overuse of segregation cells, or an improvement in the conditions of confinement, or a functioning ICRS, or improved health care, or job training, or education, or rehab.

So, we support the proposed changes but we must not become complacent and eager to join the reformers. We must remain vigilant and aggressive in our pursuit of HUMANITY for prisoners and ultimately abolishing the Prison Industrial Complex.

At NLCI a prisoner was yelled at because he had forgotten to take his hat off inside the main building. He turned to the guard and said, “I’m human, I forgot”. The guard responded, “you’re not human, you’re an inmate”. Debasement is the first necessary step towards abuse and worse. If you’re not human, they can do anything to you.

The guards are revving up the John Doe “reform” again. Both the Senate and Assembly had hearings on this Bill. I wonder why we even care about this because the DA’s will never prosecute “one of their own”. Look, Ken Harris has been trying to get his case investigated for 3 years now. He has a nurse witness (who the DOC retaliated against). He just won $75,000 in civil court on the same abuse but can’t even get a DA to listen to his story. DA Steve Bauer (now Judge Bauer) refused to investigate. Sauk Co. DA Barrett refused to investigate. When you’re an inmate, you’re not human and when you’re abused, you probably deserved it. That’s why WPW is out here!

in solidarity, WPW

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Lawsuit Calls Prison Meds Program ‘disaster Waiting’
Wisconsin State Journal
Saturday, January 24, 2009
By CARRIE ANTLFINGER Associated Press

The American Civil Liberties Union filed a motion in federal court Friday asking that Wisconsin’s largest women’s prison reform the way it administers medication, calling the current system a “disaster waiting to happen.”

The ACLU and the law firm Jenner & Block claim prisoners at Taycheedah Correctional Institution near Fond du Lac are forced to wait weeks for medicine, and when their medications arrive, they are often the wrong types or doses. The prison houses 700 maximum and medium security prisoners.

“The medication system at Taycheedah is a disaster waiting to happen,” Gabriel Eber, staff attorney with the ACLU National Prison Project, said in a statement. “For some medications, there is not even a system of checking for dangerous interactions between drugs before a prisoner starts taking a new prescription.”

John Dipko, a spokesman for the state Department of Corrections, issued a statement saying progress has been made in improving health care for Taycheedah inmates, “and this commitment to improved health care will continue into the future.”

No hearing has been scheduled yet on the motion for preliminary injunction, but Eber said in an interview that if the judge rules in the favor of the ACLU, the prison would have to institute the changes within 60 days.

The motion was filed in U.S. District Court as part of a 2006 class-action lawsuit on behalf of all Taycheedah prisoners. The lawsuit claims the prison’s medical, mental and dental care is grossly deficient and has caused its female prisoners great physical and mental suffering.

The motion asks state officials to ensure that medical prescriptions are filled quickly and accurately and administered by nurses.

Currently, correctional officers with no medical training administer medications, according to the motion. Taycheedah is one of the few state prisons in the nation that does not require nurses or trained medical personnel to administer medications.

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Leaving a Paper Trail
by Debi Christie, TCI

Everyone knows that the Department of Corrections hires the corrupt and the lazy but the staff hired for the female prisons are unbelievably corrupt. I am one of those people who believe in leaving a paper trail through the Inmate Complaint System and have even had some of those complaints “affirmed”.

My most recent complaints deal with getting my property sent from the John Burke Center. Many personal items and legal paperwork were not returned to me after my move back to TCI. Just because a DOC flunky doesn’t want me to have these items, I supposed to accept this warped thinking.

After filing many complaints with the ICRS I was FINALLY granted the right to have my legal paperwork but now TCI property officers have deemed these items “contraband” because they didn’t like the ICRS decision. They even forged a money disbursement to send these items out of the institution!

This is typical of TCI staff, so now I’ve filed a Notice of Claim with the Attorney General against these corrupt state employees. I will also ask for a John Doe investigation into the theft of my property.

I want everyone who is subjected to this sort of corruption and incom-petence to remember that an administrative decision is NOT FINAL. Take your grievance to court and make their corruption known to the public.

Some times it just feels good to know we have done all we can to hold these people accountable. That is why it is so important to exhaust our administrative remedies and follow up through the court system.

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Silence, they say, is the voice of complicity. But silence is impossible. Silence screams. Silence is a message, just as doing nothing is an act. Let who you are ring out & resonate in every word & every deed. Yes, become who you are. There’s no sidestepping your own being or your own responsibility. What you do is who you are. You are your own comeuppance. You become your own message. You are the message. In the Spirit of Crazy Horse : Leonard Peltier

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Letter to Judiciary Committee re John Doe Reform
March 9, 2009

Members of the Judiciary Committee,

I write in opposition to the proposed John Doe reforms.

There have been a lot of hysterical cries from the prison guards’ union who claim John Doe filings are used to persecute guards.

The truth of the matter is, there are some abusive guards in the DOC system and the internal mechanisms are unable to control them. 95% of all complaints filed by prisoners against guards are dismissed by the Inmate Complaint Examiners, and many prisoners do not complain for fear of retaliation.

The system is either not willing or unable to clean its own house. John Doe complaints allow prisoners to get beyond the nepotism and cronyism of the internal complaint system and find some semblance of justice.

District Attorneys are not keen on prosecuting guards accused of abusing prisoners either. They are “team players” and see themselves as part of the team along with police and prison guards upholding the law. They are not unbiased in their prosecutorial discretion. To allow them to filter reports of abuse will only increase the frustration and resignation building in the prisons.

The real and lasting way to stop (or slow) John Doe filings is to reform the Inmate Complaint Review System. Thwarting prisoners’ access to the courts is a regressive way of dealing with the symptom of a disease while allowing the cause to continue growing.

Respectfully submitted,

Frank Van den Bosch
Wisconsin Prison Watch
P.O. Box 292
Boscobel, WI 53805

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“When a man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind, as to suscribe his professional belief to things he does not believe; he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime.”~Thomas Paine “The Age of Reason”

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Court of Appeals Rules Against Pigs That Don’t Fly Straight

by: Mustafa-El K.A. Ajala

Madison, WI – On December 30, 2008, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals issued its ruling in the case of State v. Raynard R. Jackson, 2008 Wisc. App Lexis 1042. The Court ruled that Jackson, as others before him, should have been allowed to present, at his trial, evidence of corruption and abuse by the arresting officers in his case, one of which was convicted for his criminal acts in Federal Court – although, only misdemeanors.

Ala W Awadallah, convicted in U.S. v Awadallah, 05-M-408 (E.D. Wis.), was one of a ring of corrupt District 3 and District 5 Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) pigs that didn’t fly straight. They specifically targeted young brothas and sistahs of Alkebulan (Afrikan) descent. Their criminal acts included planting drugs and guns on “suspects”, robbing them of their possessions, extorting them for weapons, and engaging in serious physical assaults. In Jackson’s case, the drop gun planted on him was a .40 Glock that had no prints of Jackson on it, was not reported stolen, was identical to the police issued guns, and was placed in inventory by Awadallah – no surprise.

Other pigs associated with the corruption, though not charged criminally were, Paul Lough, Thomas Dineen, Virgil Cotton, Jason Mucha, and Kathleen Huber, as well as officers by the name of Harris, Dodd, and Westergard. If any of them were involved in your case you may want to review Jackson’s decision, along with State v Missiouri, 714 MW. 2d 595 (Wis.App.2006) – the corruption case that preceded Jackson’s and led to a favorable ruling.

Jackson’s appellate counsel was James R. Lucius during the time when the MPDs pattern of corruption became public, although Lucius failed to cite Missouri or bring any of this up on appeal. Lucius’s license has since been suspended in Disclipinary Proceedings against James R. Lucius, 2008 WI 12.

No MPD pig was ever charged with any serious felony, such as extortion, possession of drugs, illegal weapons possession, robbery, intimidating witnesses, etc., etc. However, the untold story here is that of Earl Cosey and Michelle Mac Donald, a Milwaukee couple who had the sense and nerve to record Awadallah’s attempt to shake them down for a “chopper” or 2 pistols in exchange for the return of $200 and an eightball of cocaine. If obtained, that “chopper” and/or the pistols would, no doubt, have been planted on other unsuspecting targets and, to be sure, there are lousy creeps in the system right now who have done and continue to do the same thing – working deals with corrupt pigs and other members of the judicial mob (State’s attorneys or their own attorney) in exchange for lenient plea deals.

There’s a moral to this story… A pig, as opposed to a police officer has no morals. When you step comrades, be prepared to battle them, legitimately, ie. with your own surveillance apparatus – home camcorders and security cameras (indoors and out), built in cameras on the ride (and in the trunk), hidden mics, cell phone cameras and recorders. You’re bound to encounter one of these pigs, on the take, or worse. Exercise your 5 Ps (Proper Protection in Preparation for Pigs on the Prowl) and you just might preserve your freedom, possibly your life, the life and or freedom of others, and likely get paid in the process, Insha’ Allah.

In the trenches,
your Bro. Mu-El

Mustafa-El K.A. Ajala
(FKA Dennis E. Jones-El)
P.O. Box 9900 – WSPF
Boscobel, WI 53805

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Doyle’s Budget Proposal
Budget in Brief 2009

http://www.doa.state.wi.us/debf/pdf_files/bib.pdf

Ensure wise allocation of taxpayer resources and the highest levels of public safety through better use of data, new measures to reduce recidivism and streamlined sentence review processes:

* Transfer to the Division of Hearing and Appeals the authority to determine the length of reconfinement for revocation from extended supervision, not to exceed the time remaining on the bifurcated sentence.

* Allow the secretary of the Department of Corrections to release to extended supervision persons serving the confinement portion of a bifurcated sentence who are within 12 months of release to extended supervision and meet certain eligibility criteria.

* Transfer from the sentencing court to the secretary of the Department of Corrections the authority to review petitions and release terminally ill inmates to extended supervision so long as the public safety is maintained.

* Rename the Parole Commission as the Earned Release Review Commission and expand its duties to include sentence adjustment for Class C to I felonies for both the confinement and extended supervision portions of a sentence.

* Expand the Earned Release Program and the Challenge Incarceration Program to include inmates with programming needs other than substance abuse, to allow the inmates deemed eligible at sentencing to earn early release by fulfilling certain requirements while in prison.

* Eliminate community supervision of certain low-risk misdemeanor probationers, as determined by the offense and a risk assessment performed by the Department of Corrections.

* Provide $6.5 million and 18.00 FTE positions to improve offender reentry into the community by providing tools for offender risk assessment, to better manage purchase of services dollars, research and measure programs, and maintain dual-diagnosis rehabilitation programming.

* Expand eligibility for record expungement to include individuals up to 25 years of age, and to include nonviolent Class H to I felonies, allowing more young people to learn from their mistakes and start a new life with a clean slate.

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Greek Prisoner Hunger Strike Ends
By James Jameson

Political prisoner or not, inmates are widely known to be some of the most horribly treated and forgotten people, abused as though they are not human. In a nationwide act of solidarity, more than 7,000 prisoners throughout Greece went on hunger strike on November 3, to finally fight back for their own rights. A dedicated 19 prisoners went so far as to sew their own mouths shut. The move to boycott food ended after 18 days when the inmates won their protest as the Ministry of Justice conceded to a series of requests. This is a notable for prisoners all over the world. There is hope that more inmates will take cue and demand humane treatment for themselves, and it’s important that those of us in radical, active movements who aren’t in prison do what we can to assist in this cause.

The hunger strike was enacted to highlight a 45-point list of demands. Involving 21 prisons across Greece, inmates protested unreasonable living conditions, such as poor access to basic hygiene and sanitation, a reduction of exacerbated sentences, improper medical care and severe overcrowding. Greece has the most over-crowded prisons in Europe, with nearly 11,000 inmates sardined into jails designed to hold slightly more than 7,000 people. Many of these prisoners are drug addicts and offenders with no opportunity for rehabilitation services. Detainees wait an average of 12 months in pre-trial detention before they are able to have their cases heard.

During the hunger strike, many solidarity actions were carried out by anarchists, humanitarians and other sympathizers. Greek embassies in many countries were targeted, as several mass protest marches added to the solidarity movement.

In response to the prisoners’ demands, the Ministry agreed to the following:

1) All persons convicted to a sentence of up to five years for any offense, including drug related crimes, can transform their sentence into a monetary penalty. This will not be allowed in the case that the jury decides that the payment is not enough to deter the convict from committing punishable acts in the future.

2) The minimum sum for transforming one day of prison sentence to monetary penalty is reduced from around $13 to around $4, with the provision of being reduced to around $1.50 by decision of the jury.

3) All people who have served one-fifth of their prison sentence for two-year sentences and one-third for sentences longer than two years are to be released, with no exceptions.

4) The minimum limit of served sentence is reduced to three-fifths for conditional release and for convicts of drug related crimes. Those condemned under conditions of certain laws are exempted.

5) The maximum limit of pre-trial imprisonment is reduced from 18 to 12 months, with the exception of crimes punished by life or 20-year sentences.

6) The annual tome of days-off prison is increased by one day.

7) Disciplinary penalties are to be integrated.

8) Integration after four years into national law of European council decision of drug trafficking.

9) Expansion of implementation of conditional release of convicts suffering from AIDS, kidney failure, persistent Tuberculosis and tetraplegics.

“The amendment submitted to the Parliament by the Ministry of Justice tackles but a few of our demands,” said the Prisoner’s Committee in a press release. “The minister ought to materialize his promises for the immediate release of the suggested number of prisoners announced, and, at the same time, implement concrete measures regarding the totality of the demands. We, the prisoners, treat this amendment as the first step, a result of our struggle and of the solidarity shown by society. Yet, it fails to cover us, it fails to solve our problems. With our struggle, we have first-of-all fought for our dignity—and this dignity we can not offer as a present to no minister, to no screw. We shall tolerate no arbitrary facts, no vengeful relocation, no terrorizing disciplinary act. We are standing, and we shall remain standing.

“We demand from the parliament to move towards a complete abolition of the limit of four-fifths of served sentence, the abolition for accumulated time for disciplinary penalties, the expansion of beneficial arrangements regarding days-off, and conditional releases for all categories of prisoners,” continued the Prisoner’s Committee.

“Moreover, we demand the immediate legislation on the presently vague promises of the minister of justice regarding the improvement of prison conditions (abolition of juvenile prisons, foundation of therapeutic centers for drug dependants, implementation of social labor in exchange for prison sentences, upgrading of hospital care of prisoners, incorporation of European legislation favorable to the prisoners in Greek law, etc.).
“Finally, we offer our thanks to the solidarity movement, to every component, party, medium and militant who stood by us with all and any means of his or her choice, and we want to declare that our struggle against these human refuse dumps and for the victory of all of our demands continues.”

As these prisoners have demonstrated, when people pull together, the authorities must listen. All we can do now is wait for proof that the ministry will keep it’s end of the bargain. One has to wonder about all of the things that could be accomplished if enough of us made ourselves heard as loud and clear as these prisoners have done.

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ATTENTION CONS

In November of ‘08, myself and Shaun Matz were appointed counsel by Judge Crocker in our lawsuit against WCI. (Schumacher v Frank et al. 08-CV-228 and Matz v. Frank et al. 08-CV-491). Both cases deal with the conditions of confinement in segregation & we are looking for anyone who has been in segregation here to write up affidavits. We want to know what your experience was like; what you went through. We want to know how you were treated, cell extractions you went through, observation placements, suicide/self harm attempts, how clinical services treated you, recreation, temperature in the cells, lights, property, etc.

Were also looking for affidavits from anyone on AC at GBCI, CCI, WSPF showing how these segregation units are run.

You can send the affidavits to myself or Shaun through legal route. Matthew Schumacher #369487 or Shaun Matz #264654 at WCI. We will get this info to our attorneys. We are on the brink of getting this place changed and would appreciate your support.

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The masses have never thirsted after truth. Whoever can supply them with illusions is easily their master; whoever attempts to destroy their illusions is always their victim”. Gustave Le Bon;”The Crowd”

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Committee on Judiciary, Corrections, Insurance, Campaign Finance Reform, and Housing (Senate)
Senator Lena Taylor (Chair) D
Room 415 South
State Capitol
P.O. Box 7882
Madison, WI 53707-7882
(608) 266-5810
District Telephone
(414) 342-7176

Jim Sullivan (Vice Chair) D
Room 15 South
State Capitol
P.O. Box 7882
Madison, WI 53707
(608) 266-2512 Or (866) 817-6061

Jon Erpenbach D
Room 8 South
State Capitol
P.O. Box 7882
Madison, WI 53707-7882
(608) 266-6670 Or (888) 549-0027

Glenn Grothman R
Room 20 South
State Capitol
P.O. Box 7882
Madison, WI 53707-7882
(608) 266-7513 Or (800) 662-1227

Randy Hopper R
Room 108 South
State Capitol
P.O. Box 7882
Madison, WI 53707-7882
(608) 266-5300

Committee on Corrections and the Courts (Assembly)
Representative Joe Parisi (Chair) D
Room 126 North
State Capitol
P.O. Box 8953
Madison, WI 53708
(608) 266-5342

Chuck Benedict (Vice Chair) D
Room 306 West
State Capitol
P.O. Box 8952
Madison, WI 53708
(608) 266-9967

Donna Siedel D
Room 218 North
State Capitol
P.O. Box 8953
Madison, WI 53708
(608) 266-0654 Or
(888) 534-0085

Frederick Kessler D
Room 302 North
State Capitol
P.O. Box 8952
Madison, WI 53708
(608) 266-5813

Sondy Pope-Roberts D
Room 209 North
State Capitol
P.O. Box 8953
Madison, WI 53708
(608) 266-3520 Or (888) 534-0079

Ted Zigmunt D
Room 420 North
State Capitol
P.O. Box 8952
Madison, WI 53708
(608) 266-9870

Sandy Pasch D
Room 122 North
State Capitol
P.O. Box 8953
Madison, WI 53708
(608) 266-7671 Or (888) 534-0022

Karl Van Roy R
Room 123 West
State Capitol
P.O. Box 8953
Madison, WI 53708
(608) 266-0616 Or (888) 534-0090

Mark Gundrum
Room 119 West
State Capitol
P.O. Box 8952
Madison, WI 53708
(608) 267-5158 Or (888) 534-0084

Steve Kestell R
Room 15 West
State Capitol
P.O. Box 8952
Madison, WI 53708
(608) 266-8530 Or (888) 529-0027

Daniel LaMahieu R
Room 17 North
State Capitol
P.O. Box 8952
Madison, WI 53708
(608) 266-9175 Or (888) 534-0059

Edwards Brooks
Room 20 North
State Capitol
P.O. Box 8952
Madison, WI 53708
(608) 266-8531 Or (877) 947-0050

Joint Committee on Finance (budget)
Senate Members
Senator Mark Miller, Co-Chair D
Senator Dave Hansen D
Senator Lena Taylor D
Senator John Lehman D
Senator Judy Robson D
Senator Julie Lassa D
Senator Alberta Darling R
Senator Luther Olsen R

Assembly Members
Representative Mark Pocan, Co-Chair D
Representative Pedro Colón D
Representative Cory Mason D
Representative Jennifer Shilling D
Representative Gary Sherman D
Representative Tamara Grigsby D
Representative Robin Vos R
Representative Phil Montgomery R

Committee Clerk:
Charlene Vrieze
Room 305 East, State Capitol
Madison, WI 53702
(608) 264-8314

Office of the Governor, Jim Doyle
Madison Office
P.O. Box 7863
Madison, WI 53707
608-266-1212

Northern Office
400 4th Avenue South
Park Falls, WI 54552
715-762-5900

Milwaukee Office
Room 560
819 North 6th St.
Milwaukee, WI 53203
414-227-4344

NOTE:
As you will notice, the Democrats outweigh the Republicans in every committee and are the Chair of every committee. You can write to the Republicans if you feel like getting something off your chest, but don’t expect a response or to change their minds.

When writing any of these officials, try to be respectful and polite… even if you’re mad as Hell.

STAND UP AND HOLLER!!!

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“My generation’s apathy. I’m disgusted with it. I’m disgusted with my own apathy too, for being spineless and not always standing up against racism, sexism and all those other -isms the counterculture has been whinning about for years.” : Kurt Cobain

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PRISON ACTION WISCONSIN

PREPARED STATEMENT TO JOINT FINANCE COMMITTEE – MARCH 25, 2009

We are here in support Governor Doyle’s budget provision calling for an Early Earned Release program for non-violent offenders sentenced under Truth in Sentencing. This provision is smart on crime, not “tough on crime”. Tough on crime has clogged our judicial system and overfilled our prisons. Governor Doyle’s provision addresses one of those problems in a safe, sane and just manner. We are at a turning point – either we follow the proposals outlined in the Hunt & Mead survey and spend 1.2 billion on upgrading and building new prisons as the study suggests or we reduce the pressure on the facilities and staff by releasing nonviolent offenders.

Following are some of the reasons we support the Governor’s proposal:

1. Prisons are overcrowded. They are at 120% occupancy. The facilities and rehabilitative programs are inadequate to handle this amount of prisoners. This overcrowding creates unsafe conditions for both guards and prisoners.

2. The cost of housing 22,000+ prisoners in Wisconsin is nearly $30,000 per year per prisoner. Taxpayers cannot afford to sustain these costs any longer. This money could be more effectively spent in the communities for rehabilitation and job training.

3. The majority of prisoners are incarcerated for crimes committed because of drug and/or alcohol problems. The “Treatment Instead of Prisons” legislation which has been passed will save millions of dollars. It is, in fact, what is being done in Minnesota and they have less than half the number of prisoners as Wisconsin. Minnesota has the same demographics as Wisconsin in crime rates and population.

4. The human costs must also be taken into consideration. The families of the inmates are suffering. Children need fathers and mothers for stability. Keeping offenders in their community will help stabilize the families and prevent another generation of prison expansion.

5. Under the Earned Early Release program there will be extended supervision which is a good corrections policy to help ex-offenders become productive members of society through rehabilitation and treatment programs. It will encourage better behavior and make the streets safer.

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PRISON ACTION WISCONSIN
P.O. Box 05669
Milwaukee, WI 53205

Meetings: second and fourth Saturday of every month
Time: 10 am to noon
Place: All God’s Children Church
3356 N. Martin Luther King
Milwaukee WI.
Pastor Lee Shack

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Economic crisis propels prison system changes
Shelley Nelson Superior Telegram
Published Tuesday, March 03, 2009

With the cost of housing just one of the state’s 23,000 prison inmates at $29,000 per year, Wisconsin is looking for ways to get smart on crime.

Department of Corrections Secretary Rick Raemisch was in Superior on Monday to meet with local law enforcement to highlight some of the changes proposed as the state faces a $5.7 billion budget shortfall. Among the changes is a new evaluation system that could keep low-risk, nonviolent offenders out of state prisons and low-risk offenders who’ve committed misdemeanor crimes off the state’s probation system.

Superior Police Capt. Chad La Lor said Monday’s session was the first he heard of dropping supervision for misdemeanor offenders. He said even if offenders aren’t actively supervised, probation provides a mechanism to bring an offender in quicker when they reoffend. “You get in this cycle ‘it’s a minor crime,’ but when there are true victims, there are no minor crimes,” La Lor said.

The budget for corrections is about $1.2 billion, a cost that could double in the next 10 years if the state doesn’t develop new strategies, Raemisch said.
“There always will be a need for prisons to house violent criminals who pose a threat to public safety, but … we need to invest in strategies beyond prison expansion to curtail corrections spending and reduce recidivism,” Raemisch said.

The budget proposed by Gov. Jim Doyle for the next two years would start the state on that path.

The goal of the new strategy is to protect public safety by keeping violent offenders in prison, but providing opportunities for nonviolent offenders to complete treatment so they can succeed and become productive citizens when they return to their communities, Raemisch said. Under the proposed changes, offenders would be evaluated to determine the level of risk they pose to the community and provide services to help low-risk offenders.

The state would expand services in the Earned Release Program to provide services needed for successful reintegration in the community. Currently, drug and alcohol treatment are provided, but an offender may need education and job skills, Raemisch said. He said the goal is to provide what the offender needs. “This whole do-the-crime, do-the-time strategy is taxing people out of their homes and probably closing schools as we build prisons,” said District Attorney Dan Blank.

Currently, 1 in 39 Wisconsin adults are under some form of control of the state’s corrections department, whether probation, extended supervision, local jails or prison, according to a study released Monday by the Pew Center, an independent nonprofit that uses analysis to improve public policy.

While 1 in 26 Minnesota adults are under some form of corrections control, the state’s prison population is only about 9,000, Raemisch said, suggesting there could be a better way to deal crime.

“If we reduce our population more, that just means less cost for criminal justice system, less crime, less victims, and the savings just goes on and on,” Raemisch said. “We’re talking about changing people’s lives and working in a positive nature, and that’s just going to help the state.” Of the 23,000 people currently in the state prison system, 3,000 automatically would be evaluated for risk when the law passes, he said. “That doesn’t mean they’ll get out of prison right away. It will take months and months.”

Since the 1990s, Blank said the state’s focus has been incarceration and getting tough on crime, when the state needs to be smart on crime. “I think the important thing is this represents a philosophical change that recognizes the way we’ve done business probably is not as effective as we wanted it to be and it’s turned out to be horribly expensive,” Blank said. “We took the easy way out in a lot of cases and we started dumping people in the prison system because it looks like we’re tough on crime and that’s what gets headlines and votes.”

One of the things county officials hope to see come from this is an opportunity to reintegrate prison inmates in the community by using the county jails to house state prisoners and allow them a chance, under Huber work release, to get jobs to ensure a successful transition from incarceration to release in the community.

“I’d like to work with the sheriff’s on a re-entry program … and get them acclimated in the community,” Raemisch said.

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Corrections workers back Doyle’s early release plan
By Patrick Marley of the Journal Sentinel, Mar. 11, 2009

Madison – Correctional officers say they support Gov. Jim Doyle’s plan to give early release to some low-risk inmates because of rising security concerns at the state’s overcrowded prisons.

Officers who also serve as Wisconsin State Employees Union leaders said they would be safer if inmates had an incentive to behave themselves.

“There’s no incentive to do good time,” said Daniel Meehan, a Waupun Correctional Institution officer and union local president. “If I’m doing 20 years, I’m going to act the fool for 20 years.”

Doyle has proposed allowing some offenders to be released early to save money and better rehabilitate criminals. His fellow Democrats who control the Legislature have shown support for the idea, even as Republicans rip it as dangerous.

“To release criminals – felons – before their sentence is up is hogwash,” said Rep. Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomowoc). “It’s insulting to the citizens of Wisconsin to pretend you’re tough on crime when those committing the egregious crimes are given a free pass for not acting out while they’re incarcerated.”

Doyle’s plan focuses on nonviolent criminals, but some have criticized it for including drug offenders.

The backing for Doyle’s proposal from correctional officers comes at a time when a legislative committee is looking into ways to overhaul the state’s prison system.

Experts told the Justice Reinvestment Initiative Oversight Committee on Wednesday that revocations of probation and extended supervision are major drivers of the state’s exploding prison costs, fueling $286 million in new expenses in 2007. Those costs will be spread over several years because many of the offenders will serve more than a year behind bars.

The findings were presented by the nonpartisan Council of State Governments Justice Center, which is analyzing Wisconsin’s corrections data for the committee.

The group’s analysts said 61% of those who entered prison in 2007 did so because they had violated rules – but not broken any laws – while on probation or extended supervision. The 61% represents 5,598 new inmates.

One reason for the increasing revocations: The average amount of time former inmates spend on supervision more than doubled between 2000 and 2007 – from 23 months to 54 months.

That increase is because of the state’s 10-year-old truth-in-sentencing law, which lawmakers passed to make sure offenders served their full sentences. At the time, they planned to also shorten the length of sentences, but they never did so.

Many offenders have problems following probation and extended supervision rules because of drug addiction, mental health issues and difficulty finding jobs, the group told lawmakers.

Many of those returning have had their supervision revoked multiple times, said Tony Fabelo, the group’s research director.

“Whatever you’re doing, you’re not slowing down this recycling of people coming in,” Fabelo said.

The committee is trying to find ways to cut recidivism and trim the $1 billion annual budget for corrections. Wisconsin prisons hold more than 22,000 people.

The state budget Doyle proposed last month would allow low-risk inmates to shave off up to a third of their sentences if they followed prison rules. Doyle has said 500 to 1,000 inmates would likely be released over two years, saving up to $27 million.

Lawmakers will decide whether to go along with the governor in the coming months.

Correctional officers have long complained that truth in sentencing has created a dangerous environment for them by overcrowding prisons with inmates who have little motive to follow rules.

But Kleefisch and some other Republicans said Doyle’s plan would put the public in danger.

“No question the public will be at risk if? …felons are released early,” Kleefisch said.

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Write to Legislators

The following agencies are currently investigating Corrections and are trying to address concerns with mental health treatment and/or availability of programs for inmates. Such treatment or programs may be necessary for your personal well being or for satisfying A&E or Parole Commission requirements.

Rep. Joe Parisi, Chair
Assembly Committee on Corrections and the Courts
E-mail: Rep. Parisi@legis.wisconsin.gov
Room 126 North, State Capital
P.O. Box 8953, Madison, WI 53708

Sen. Lena C. Taylor, Chair
Special Committee on Justice Reinvestment Oversight
E-mail Sen. Taylor@legis.wisconsin.gov
Room 415 South, State Capital
P.O. Box 7882, Madison, WI 53707-7882

Janis Mueller; (mental health audit)
Legislative Audit Bureau
22 E. Mifflin Suite 500
Madison, WI 53703

If you are being denied, delayed, or having problems getting treatment or programs essential to your rehabilitative progress, mental health, and/or are being denied parole release or minimum security because you lack having completed such DOC requirements, then enlighten the Legislature by sharing your story and problems.

You may know what you are experiencing but the Legislatures may not. An audit is requested for all past PRC decisions, DOC-1292 Appeals, and for all Parole Commission written decisions.

The Parole Commission denies many parole releases based upon a single statement; ”you have not served sufficient time as to not depreciate the seriousness of the crime.” We all know this is a hollow statement and it provides no guiding rationale. Inmates are in prison because of the seriousness of the crime! This reasoning based on the same factors you were sentenced to prison makes little sense. Public safety is a concern to all, but rehabili-tation and the social reintegration of one of societies members must be part of that goal.

Similarly the DOC’s Program Review Committee (PRC) routinely assigns a security (risk) classification to inmates’ by simply referencing a guideline manual titled; “Risk Rating Instructions” (Instructions). In 2002, the DOC made rule changes to its own Administrative Codes on the justification the rules were outdated, yet they continue to use the 1990 Instruction manual unchanged. This Instruction manual is a general guideline that does not distinguish between the many distinct sentencing schemes which have been legislated throughout the years and which inmates are now serving in Wisconsin’s overcrowded prison system; such as Old Law Parole, New Law Parole, PMR, TIS-I, TIS-II.

Notably, a 15 year sentence under the parole scheme is not similar to a 15 year sentence under the Truth in Sentencing Law. Yet all these sentencing schemes are being placed under a single “15 year” threshold rule for determining inmates’ security custody levels. A Sentence Structure section of these Instructions work to the exclu-sion of all other relevant factors, such as your rehabilitative achievements.

If the Sentence Structure factor rates high then the total risk rates high, even if all other factors rate low. The DOC is denying programs, or movement to a lower classification such as Minimum, and/or place inmates on program waiting lists under this cover-all-umbrella known as the Risk Rating Instructions.

In addition, the PRC’s written decisions or reasons for denying requests for entry into treatment or programs or requests for reduced custody are typically boiler plate statements being universally applied to inmates such as; “to much time to MR”; “time likely to be served” ; or “potential parolability.” The boiler plate reasons or excuses seem designed to block your interests in improving or maintaining your mental health or your interests in achieving “suitability” for parole release.

Former Governor Thompson actually issued a memorandum in 1994 directing the DOC to do just that, “block” your release from prison, which runs counter to your efforts to be released. And notoriously, the Parole Commission during the mid-1990s tightened parole release standards. Legislative, Executive, and Private influences for the past years seem to be working against your efforts to be released. (Ref. American Legislative Exchange Council). A complete audit of these agencies is requested.

Friends and family members should phone, write, or E-mail their congress member and state their support for Governor Doyle’s early release proposals.
Write to Legislators (cont. from 7)
Maybe even suggest expanding them? If you generally agree with and/or your situation relates to the above statements either write your own letter or send this commentary as being representative of your view, send along with personal samples of decisions, records, etc… as evidence for the legislature to consider. “Do Not” send your original documents, instead send copies of the originals. Ask that the material be submitted as testimony into the congressional record. This may be the best moment in time and opportunity to voice your opinion on Corrections in Wisconsin and its management.

LEGISLATIVE ADDRESSES
www.legis.state.wi.us
http://notify.legis.state.wi.us

SENATE:
P.O. Box 7882
Madison, WI 53707

ASSEMBLY:
A-L= P.O. Box 8952
M-Z=P.O. Box 8953
Madison, WI 53708

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Judges Plead Guilty in Scheme to Jail Youths for Profit
By IAN URBINA and SEAN D. HAMILL

At worst, Hillary Transue thought she might get a stern lecture when she appeared before a judge for building a spoof MySpace page mocking the assistant principal at her high school in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. She was a stellar student who had never been in trouble, and the page stated clearly at the bottom that it was just a joke.

Instead, the judge sentenced her to three months at a juvenile detention center on a charge of harassment.

She was handcuffed and taken away as her stunned parents stood by.

“I felt like I had been thrown into some surreal sort of nightmare,” said Hillary, 17, who was sentenced in 2007. “All I wanted to know was how this could be fair and why the judge would do such a thing.”

The answers became a bit clearer on Thursday as the judge, Mark A. Ciavarella Jr., and a colleague, Michael T. Conahan, appeared in federal court in Scranton, Pa., to plead guilty to wire fraud and income tax fraud for taking more than $2.6 million in kickbacks to send teenagers to two privately run youth detention centers run by PA Child Care and a sister company, Western PA Child Care.

While prosecutors say that Judge Conahan, 56, secured contracts for the two centers to house juvenile offenders, Judge Ciavarella, 58, was the one who carried out the sentencing to keep the centers filled.

“In my entire career, I’ve never heard of anything remotely approaching this,” said Senior Judge Arthur E. Grim, who was appointed by the State Supreme Court this week to determine what should be done with the estimated 5,000 juveniles who have been sentenced by Judge Ciavarella since the scheme started in 2003. Many of them were first-time offenders and some remain in detention.

The case has shocked Luzerne County, an area in northeastern Pennsylvania that has been battered by a loss of industrial jobs and the closing of most of its anthracite coal mines.

And it raised concerns about whether juveniles should be required to have counsel either before or during their appearances in court and whether juvenile courts should be open to the public or child advocates.

If the court agrees to the plea agreement, both judges will serve 87 months in federal prison and resign from the bench and bar. They are expected to be sentenced in the next several months. Lawyers for both men declined to comment.

Since state law forbids retirement benefits to judges convicted of a felony while in office, the judges would also lose their pensions.

With Judge Conahan serving as president judge in control of the budget and Judge Ciavarella overseeing the juvenile courts, they set the kickback scheme in motion in December 2002, the authorities said.

They shut down the county-run juvenile detention center, arguing that it was in poor condition, the authorities said, and maintained that the county had no choice but to send detained juveniles to the newly built private detention centers.

Prosecutors say the judges tried to conceal the kickbacks as payments to a company they control in Florida.

Though he pleaded guilty to the charges Thursday, Judge Ciavarella has denied sentencing juveniles who did not deserve it or sending them to the detention centers in a quid pro quo with the centers.

But Assistant United States Attorney Gordon A. Zubrod said after the hearing that the government continues to charge a quid pro quo.

“We’re not negotiating that, no,” Mr. Zubrod said. “We’re not backing off.”

No charges have been filed against executives of the detention centers. Prosecutors said the investigation into the case was continuing.

For years, youth advocacy groups complained that Judge Ciavarella was unusually harsh. He sent a quarter of his juvenile defendants to detention centers from 2002 to 2006, compared with a state rate of 1 in 10. He also routinely ignored requests for leniency made by prosecutors and probation officers.

“The juvenile system, by design, is intended to be a less punitive system than the adult system, and yet here were scores of children with very minor infractions having their lives ruined,” said Marsha Levick, a lawyer with the Philadelphia-based Juvenile Law Center.

“There was a culture of intimidation surrounding this judge and no one was willing to speak up about the sentences he was handing down.”

Last year, the Juvenile Law Center, which had raised concerns about Judge Ciavarella in the past, filed a motion to the State Supreme Court about more than 500 juveniles who had appeared before the judge without representation. The court originally rejected the petition, but recently reversed that decision.

The United States Supreme Court ruled in 1967 that children have a constitutional right to counsel. But in Pennsylvania, as in at least 20 other states, children can waive counsel, and about half of the children that Judge Ciavarella sentenced had chosen to do so. Only Illinois, New Mexico and North Carolina require juveniles to have representation when they appear before judges.

Clay Yeager, the former director of the Office of Juvenile Justice in Pennsylvania, said typical juvenile proceedings are kept closed to the public to protect the privacy of children.

“But they are kept open to probation officers, district attorneys, and public defenders, all of whom are sworn to protect the interests of children,” he said. “It’s pretty clear those people didn’t do their jobs.”

On Thursday in Federal District Court in Scranton, more than 80 people packed every available seat in the courtroom. At one point, as Assistant United States Attorney William S. Houser explained to Judge Edwin M. Kosik that the government was willing to reach a plea agreement with the men because the case involved “complex charges that could have resulted in years of litigation,” one man sitting in the audience said “bull” loud enough to be heard in the courtroom.

One of the parents at the hearing was Susan Mishanski of Hanover Township.

Her son, Kevin, now 18, was sentenced to 90 days in a detention facility last year in a simple assault case that everyone had told her would result in probation, since Kevin had never been in trouble and the boy he hit had only a black eye.

“It’s horrible to have your child taken away in shackles right in front of you when you think you’re going home with him,” she said. “It was nice to see them sitting on the other side of the bench.”

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Wisconsin Prison Watch
P.O. Box 292
Boscobel, WI 53805

The United States spends about $57 billion annually on its prison and jail system. Over $750 billion on the military budget. Hundreds of billions on police and courts. How much on schools?

—————————————————————————————–
WISCONSIN PRISON WATCH NEWSLETTER

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Remit to: Wisconsin Prison Watch – P.O. Box 292 – Boscobel, WI 53805


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Wisconsin Prison Watch – November 2008 Newsletter

Friends,

By the time you receive this newsletter we will have elected a new president. The important word in the last sentence is ‘we’, because the right to vote is not available to thousands of Wisconsin citizens. About 70,000 Wisconsinites are under some sort of oppressive state authority. Not all of those 70,000 are precluded from voting, but most are. Many of those denied the right to vote are working and paying taxes which makes us wonder about the taxation without representation issue. Who is representing us?

Aside from the voting problem, census figures show the 53rd state assembly district claims about 5,000 prisoners as “constituents” of that district even though their legal residences are elsewhere – mostly from Milwaukee Co. These census figures are important in proportioning seats in the legislature and funds (Federal and others) to those communities.
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As a note of clarification, our WPW legal team is engaged in research and the evaluation of general legal questions about the criminal (in)justice and prison system. The team is not a legal resource for specific legal questions about pending litigation or procedures. Any opinions given will address general topics of legal process. We cannot offer legal assistance to prisoners.
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Have you been getting the proper and prescribed treatment for your Hep-C? Prisoners in Illinois won a huge class action suit due to lack of treatment. It appears that the Illinois and Wisconsin policies are identical and the same goes for the lack of treatment administered. We are in conversation with the attorney who won the Illinois suit. He is studying the possibility of bringing the same class action against the WIDOC. Stay tuned, we’ll keep you informed.
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Speaking of class action suits, has anyone heard from the folks in Frisco, TX and the Parole class action suit? We haven’t. We became concerned a couple of months ago when communication ended and the primary architect of this suit filed a parole related suit on his own behalf. Of course he claimed that, if he wins, it will help all similarly situated prisoners. We’ve heard that before and it appears that his appeal for “class members” was a way to bolster his own case and argument. That’s how we see it; let’s hope we’re wrong.
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The rally in front of DOC headquarters turned out pretty well considering how the effort was undermined by the “leader” of PAM who actually sent out an email to around 150 prison activists, legislators and press that the “rally has been canceled”. We’ll not speculate on the motivations but suffice it to say that the PAM leadership has developed a cozy relationship with Alfonzo Graham. I’m going to be generous here and attribute this stupid behavior to naiveté and a belief that “working with the system” will get something accomplished.

Hence the split and new organization called Prison Action Wisconsin. This split has been another frustrating setback in the organizing effort, but it was essential. Aside from the above described foolishness PAM was also heading down the “post release assistance” path intent on becoming another toothless organization looking to feel good about itself by “helping” returning prisoners. The mission of addressing conditions of confinement and parole abuse were becoming secondary to the mission.

PAW will remain focussed on the criminality of the DOC in their abusive treatment of prisoners; on the degrading and inhuman warehousing of our loved ones; on the utter failure of the DOC to complete its stated mission; on the merry-go-round of needed programs – parole consideration – early release – carrot dangling manipulation.

One of our comrades, 15 years in on an excessive 30 sentence just came up for parole. He had over 100 letters of support, letters from State Representatives, a letter from one of the jury members who was shocked at the original sentence. No conduct reports in over 10 years, a job waiting, family waiting, lots of support. He got a 36 defer. Just another example of the ideologically driven parole commission.
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The ten year Critical Resistance anniversary conference in Oakland, CA was a great gathering of prison abolitionists and activists. Former Panthers, community organizers and young anarchists all came together for a weekend of networking and workshops. The primary message coming out of all the talks and workshops was ORGANIZE!!! Organize in the communities, organize in the prisons, organize, organize, organize.

Attending the CR10 conference reinforced the truth that PRISONS DO NOT SOLVE SOCIETAL PROBLEMS – THEY MAKE THEM WORSE. If you think prisons are about rehabilitation and punishment, you’re looking at it the wrong way, prisons are about controlling populations, poor populations. As our economies collapse and jobs become even scarcer, we can expect desperation and crime to increase. As state budgets tighten we will see a tug of war for funds; social programs will be slashed as repressive systems get funding, speeding up the regressive spiral. The next few years will be very interesting and if we prepare, if we organize, we will be able to resist the oppressive machine. We can either hang together or separately hang.

in solidarity, WPW & PAW

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Employment Discrimination Based Upon Arrest and Conviction Record
by Dujuan Walker

In my last piece I discussed the John Doe Statute and how this statute may be used by prisoners to help enforce their rights. In this issue I will address a legal problem which seems to plague almost every prisoner upon their release to the community: Illegal employment discrimination based on arrest and conviction record. Many former prisoners are finding that employers are basing their decision not to hire strictly upon the former prisoner’s past criminal background. In many situations, as I will discuss below, this practice is illegal and in violation of Wisconsin State Statutes s.. 111.335 et. seq. If you are discriminated against based upon your arrest and conviction record, you may be able to recover damages in civil court AND get the employer to hire you at that place of employment. The following information is quoted directly from a fact sheet published by the State of Wisconsin’s Department of Workforce Development, Equal Rights Division (ERD-7609-P).

How does the law define (Wisconsin Fair Employment law, Wisconsin Statutes. 111.31-111.395) arrest record?
Arrest record is defined as information that a person has been questioned, apprehended, taken into custody or detention, held for investigation, arrested, charged with, indicted or tried for any felony, misdemeanor or other offense by any law enforcement or military authority.

How does the law define conviction record?
Conviction record is defined as information indicating that a person has been convicted of any felony, misdemeanor or other offense, has been judged delinquent, has been less than honorably discharged, or has been placed on probation, fined, imprisoned or paroled by any law enforcement or military authority.

Can an employer discharge a current employee because of a pending criminal charge?
No. An employer may, however, suspend an employee, if the offense-giving rise to the pending criminal charge is substantially related to the circumstances of the particular job or licensed activity.

Can an employer refuse to hire a person because or a record of arrests that did not lead to conviction?
No. An employer is not allowed to ask about arrests, other than pending charges.

What can an employer ask regarding arrest and conviction records?
An employer may ask whether an applicant has any pending charges or convictions, as long as the employer makes it clear that these will only be given consideration if the offenses are substantially related to the particular job. An employer cannot, legally, make a rule that no persons with conviction records will be employed. Each job and record must be considered individually.

Can an employer refuse to hire an applicant because of a lengthy record of convictions or conviction for a crime the employer finds upsetting?
An employer may only refuse to hire a qualified applicant because of a conviction record for an offense that is substantially related to the circumstances of a particular job. Whether the crime is an upsetting one may have nothing to do with whether it is substantially related to a particular job.

What is meant by substantially related?
The law does not specifically define it. The “substantially related” test looks at the circumstances of an offense, where it happened, when, etc. – compared to the circumstances of a job – where is this job typically done, when, etc. The more similar the circumstances, the more likely it is that a substantial relationship will be found. The legislature has determined that certain convictions are substantially related to employment in child and adult caregiving programs regulated by the Department of Health and Family Services.

What if an employer believes a pending charge or conviction is substantially related but the employee or applicant believes it is not?
In this situation, the employee or applicant may file a complaint and the Equal Rights Division will make a determination as to whether there is a substantial relationship, with either party having the right to appeal the decision.

Can an employer refuse to hire or discharge a person with a pending charge or conviction because other workers or customers don’t want the person with a conviction there?
No. The law makes no provision for this type of problem. The employer must show that the conviction record is substantially related to the particular job. Co-worker or customer preference is not a consideration.

Is it a violation of the law if the applicant’s conviction record is a part of the reason “for not being hired, but not the who!e reason?
Yes. A conviction record that is not substantially related to the particular job should be given no consideration in the hiring process.

How should an applicant answer questions on an application regarding conviction record?
It is best to answer all questions on an application as honestly and fully as possible, and to offer to explain the circumstances of the conviction to the employer.

Should an employer ask about the circumstances of a conviction during an interview?
Yes. An employer must obtain enough information to determine if the conviction record is substantially related to the job. If the employer decides there is a substantial! relationship, employment may be refused but the employer must be prepared to defend the decision if the applicant believes there is not a substantial
relationship and files a complaint.

What should a person do if refused employment or discharged because of an arrest or conviction record (that is not substantially related)?
Complaints about violations of the law protecting persons from discrimination because or arrest and/or conviction may be filed with:

State of Wisconsin Department Of Workforce Development Equal Rights Division
201 E Washington Ave. Room A300
P.O. Box 8928
Madison, WI 53708
Telephone: (608) 266-6860

819 N. 6th Street
Room 255
Milwaukee, WI 53203
Telephone: (414) 227-4384

For more information on this issue see, for example, County of Milwaukee v. LIRC, 139 Wis. 2d. 805, 407 N.W. 2d. 908 (1987). Keep in mind that the filing of a complaint with the Equal Rights Division is a prerequisite to filing any court action against the employer for refusing to hire you based upon arrest or conviction record or firing you because of arrest and conviction record. You have 300 days from the date of the incident to file a complaint with the ERD or else your issue is time-barred. In many cases, the issue is resolved without litigation ever being necessary. Many employers would rather just hire a former prison than deal with litigation by the former prisoner or his/her attorney. Also, the ERD may find during their investigation that the employer did in fact discriminate against you because of your past. Many employers try to cover it up by listing some false reason for refusing to employ people but still many employers will admit that they “Do not hire felons” or “Will not consider non-competitive (felon)” applicants. Either way, we need to make sure that these employers are held responsible for their violations of the law and crimes against the public.

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Census Bureau counts Wisconsin prisoners in wrong place; access to state and county government distorted
Prison Policy Initiative

The federal Census counts state and federal prisoners as part of the local population, and that creates big problems for state and local government, charges a new report by the Prison Policy Initiative.

“Governments rely on the Census to count the population so they can update legislative districts,” said Prison Policy Initiative Executive Director and report co-author Peter Wagner. The Supreme Court’s “One Person One Vote” rule requires that legislative districts each contain the same number of people, so that each person has the same access to government. “Unfortunately, the Census Bureau has counted 20,000 prisoners in the wrong place,” said Wagner.

Historically, Wisconsin’s state legislative districts are drawn by federal judges and far more equal in population than in most states. “Only 4 states drew more perfect districts” said report co-author John Hejduk. “But we found a district where 10% of the population is prisoners; that’s a problem 5 times larger than what the federal judges who drew the districts were trying to avoid.”

“The problem is even larger in some rural areas,” said Wagner. The report, Importing Constituents: Prisoners and Political Clout in Wisconsin, finds rural county and city government districts that are as much as 79% prisoners. “This allows the real residents of a district with a prison to unfairly dominate their local government.”

The report calls on Wisconsin to lobby the Census Bureau to change how prisoners are counted; and urges counties and cities with prisons to follow the lead of Michigan’s counties and draw legislative districts that are not based on flawed Census counts of prisoners.

Counting incarcerated people as residents of prison towns skews demographic data

Counting incarcerated people as if they were residents of prison towns leads to misleading portrayals of such communities.

Wisconsin has the second highest Black incarceration rate in the country,[4] and the fifth highest racial disparity in incarceration,[5] with Blacks 10.6 times as likely to be in prison as Whites. Counties with large prisons, though, tend to be disproportionately White: 87% of the state and federal prison cells are located in counties that are have a larger White population than the state as a whole. In Dodge County, 89% and in Marquette County, 91%, of the Black population reported in the Census is not residents, but prisoners.[6]

The prison communities also tend to be small enough that incarcerated populations are a significant portion of the total “residents” counted by the Census. Twenty-four percent of the population reported in the Census for Waupun City (in Dodge and Fond du Lac Counties) is actually prisoners at the Waupun, Dodge and John C. Burke Correctional Facilities. About 5% of the “residents” counted in Dodge and Jackson Counties are actually prisoners. In Marquette County, more than 8% of “residents” are incarcerated.[8]

There is also a geographic disparity in who goes to prison in Wisconsin. The residents of Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha and Rock counties are much more likely to be incarcerated than the residents of other counties. The residents of Milwaukee County are more than twice as likely to be in prison than the average resident of the state, and more than 7 times as likely as the residents of prison-hosting Dodge County. Milwaukee County contains 18% of the state population and is home for 42% of its prisoners.[7]

The Census Bureau’s practice of counting prisoners as residents of the prison location complicates using the Census for demographic analysis of rural communities, but this problem is overshadowed by the serious damage the prisoner miscount does to state and local democracy.

Redistricting and “One Person, One Vote”

The basic principle of American representative democracy is that every vote must be of equal weight. When governments draw districts with equal populations, they ensure that each resident has equal access to government, no matter where she or he lives. When districts are of substantially different sizes, the weight of each vote starts to differ: in underpopulated districts, each vote is worth more, and in overpopulated districts, a vote is worth less.

The U.S. Supreme Court first declared that the “One Person, One Vote” principle applied to state legislative redistricting in the 1963 landmark case Reynolds v. Sims.[9] The Court struck down an apportionment scheme for the Alabama state legislature that was based on counties and not population. In 1960 Alabama, Lowndes County, with 15,417 people, had the same number of state senators as Jefferson County, with 634,864 people, giving the residents of sparsely-populated Lowndes County 41 times as much political power as the residents of densely-populated Jefferson County. The Supreme Court ruled that the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause required that districts be drawn to be substantially equal in population.

Subsequent U.S. Supreme Court cases defined the limits of “substantially equal.” In White v. Regester, the Court ruled that the State of Texas was not required to justify how it drew lines resulting in an average district deviation of less than 2% and a maximum deviation of 9.9%.[10] Today, most states draw their districts so that the smallest district is no more than 5% smaller, and the largest no more than 5% larger, than the average district. This keeps the difference between the largest and smallest district within 10%.

Wisconsin has historically applied a much higher standard, drawing districts with a maximum deviation of less than 2%. Only four states currently have districts that are more equal in population than Wisconsin’s.[11] For three decades, federal judges have drawn the state Assembly and Senate legislative district maps. In 1982, at the first redistricting since the U.S. Supreme Court allowed Texas to have a population deviation of 10%, the federal judges who drew Wisconsin’s districts set a higher standard, explaining that “We believe that a constitutionally acceptable plan should not deviate as high as 10%, and should, if possible, be kept below 2%.”[12] The plan they drafted met even that high standard: “The deviation in our plan is a scant 1.74%.”[13]

In 1992, the court drew a plan with an even smaller total deviation from exact population equality: 0.52%.[14] In 2002, the court drew a plan with a deviation of only 1.48%, still within the 2% threshold established in 1982.[15]

Wisconsin rightly prioritizes population equality when drawing districts, but the Census Bureau has undermined these efforts by crediting thousands of prisoners to the wrong place.

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Freedom
by Phillip Torsrud
WCI, Waupun, WI

Many entities like taking credit for the freedom that the American people have. Politicians, the military, even the media at times use the mantra, “fighting for our freedom”. It’s a surprise that the scientists and engineers who develop our weapons don’t feel the need to explain that if they didn’t invent the atom bomb, stealth bomber, M-16, etc…, we would not be the “leader of the free world”. Perhaps the billions of dollars we spend on our weapons industries keeps them from wasting time explaining how much we need them to maintain our freedom.

The problem is that a free country cannot remain so if people believe that it is someone else’s responsibility to provide them with their freedom as though it were a service. The justification for personal freedom is that people have a conscience that makes them aware of the significance of being free and the faculties to exercise that freedom responsibly. When people lack a conscience or are irresponsible, they are sanctioned through a loss of freedom. This can range from taking away someone’s driver’s license to putting them in prison.

While sanctions have always existed, the current trend of legislating away personal freedom is a reaction to a tremendous number of irresponsible people who abuse their freedoms. Rather than do the real work needed to develop’ a society of educated, fully developed adults who can function in a free society, people are satisfied with simply reiterating the sanctions we’ve always had by passing a new law. This is an offered service, which only results in empowering the government. Does this address the dysfunctional nature of the people who abused their freedom? Empowering the individual to take responsibility for their community and self is the only workable solution in a free society.

Freedom is a revolutionary idea, and only in recent history became a social norm. As societies constantly organize and reorganize, whatever party takes on the power of the establishment in our ever shifting political landscape will try to control people, markets, ideas, etc… to serve their agenda. Therefore, the individual is always faced with the dilemma of conforming, or staking out their values against the herd of sheep who will trample over their own freedoms in pursuit of a leader who promises to do their work for them. Free societies depend on individuals with the backbone to reject these false promises and thereby manifest their identity and maintain their culture.

Today, Americans have a false sense of freedom that is manifested in style, not substance. Through the clothes they wear, the way they talk, tattoos, body piercing, or even riding a motorcycle, Americans like to present a facade~ of having a rebel mentality, implying how deeply they value freedom. Yet when a problem arises, the first institution they call on to solve it, is the government. No matter what the cost in freedom or money, only the government is thought of as having any problem solving ability.

In France, there are 63,000 inmates in prison, and 1,100 are for terrorist related activity. That works out to almost 1,000 inmates for every million people. Wisconsin would have around 5,000 inmates at those rates, but instead has over 23,000 inmates, and zero for terrorist related activities. Paris itself has more people that all of Wisconsin, and has more visitors per year than any place on earth, some of whom commit crimes.

After liberating France from the Germans, the French now value freedom more than Americans. In France, incarceration is only used when absolutely necessary. Why is it the last option? So that the government can invest in an educational system that is far better than ours, national health care, and an infrastructure that makes people want to go there to live or travel. It’s called having your priorities straight. Since the French are educated, they would never allow their politicians to use fear to turn their nation into a police state. Only people with a slave mentality would sacrifice their future by wasting so many precious resources on institutions that only offer the illusion of safety.

Freedom starts in the mind. it is an idea that once embraced becomes an attitude. When a sufficient number of people adopt that attitude it becomes a movement. When that movement is successful, a society begins to have institutions that reflect that attitude in their policies. The reason that America’s national anthem ends with, “in the land of the free and the home of the brave,” is because freedom and bravery go hand in hand. The freedom to live a worthwhile life will never be risk free. America will never be a free country until it stops living in fear.

**********

The Day My Mother Was Sent Away
by Wenona Thompson

The day my Mother was sent away

The day my mother was arrested was the beginning of my life’s destruction.

No one will ever actually understand me until their mother is legally separated from them.

I know what my mother did was wrong, or against the law, but I already don’t have a father now they done took away my mother.

I can’t seem to understand this, for where is my mandatory love, attention, discipline, understanding, and home education gonna come from?

A lot of people assume that my mother is the cause of these changes. But regardless of who cause such problems, the consequence are not solving them.

For so long I tried to make sense out of these state rules and regulations, but for some reason I can’t understand why there isn’t any alternative punishment for crime-convicted mothers with babies.

I know this may not be true, but is the state trying to rectify the problem, prolong it, or maybe just create something totally new? Hmm, I truly don’t know.

I’m now an older lady with children of my own, facing many issues not only within myself, but also the issues of my mother, who I impatiently await to re-meet.

I sometimes ask myself if this punishment my mother and I are receiving is accurate. In all honesty I say it is not, for this was my mother’s first offense and the crime was not violent.

But still, the state changed my life goals and also the goals of my mother, my children, and my sisters and brothers the day my Mother was sent away.

This story is one of many wonderful, heartbreaking stories excerpted from the zine:

WRITERS BLOCK: The voices of women inside

available from:
Women and Prison Program
c/o Beyondmedia Education
4001 N. Ravenswood Ave. #204C
Chicago, IL 60613

page 3

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The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
Gil Scott-Heron -1975

You will not be able to stay home, brother.
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and skip,
Skip out for beer during commercials,
Because the revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox
In 4 parts without commercial interruptions.
The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon
blowing a bugle and leading a charge by John
Mitchell, General Abrams and Spiro Agnew to eat
hog maws confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary.
The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be brought to you by the
Schaefer Award Theatre and will not star Natalie
Woods and Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia.
The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal.
The revolution will not get rid of the nubs.
The revolution will not make you look five pounds
thinner, because the revolution will not be televised, Brother.

There will be no pictures of you and Willie May
pushing that shopping cart down the block on the dead run,
or trying to slide that color television into a stolen ambulance.
NBC will not be able predict the winner at 8:32
or report from 29 districts.
The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of Whitney Young being
run out of Harlem on a rail with a brand new process.
There will be no slow motion or still life of Roy
Wilkens strolling through Watts in a Red, Black and
Green liberation jumpsuit that he had been saving
For just the proper occasion.

Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Hooterville
Junction will no longer be so damned relevant, and
women will not care if Dick finally gets down with
Jane on Search for Tomorrow because Black people
will be in the street looking for a brighter day.
The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no highlights on the eleven o’clock
news and no pictures of hairy armed women
liberationists and Jackie Onassis blowing her nose.
The theme song will not be written by Jim Webb,
Francis Scott Key, nor sung by Glen Campbell, Tom
Jones, Johnny Cash, Englebert Humperdink, or the Rare Earth.
The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be right back after a message
about a white tornado, white lightning, or white people.
You will not have to worry about a dove in your
bedroom, a tiger in your tank, or the giant in your toilet bowl.
The revolution will not go better with Coke.
The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath.
The revolution will put you in the driver’s seat.

The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised,
will not be televised, will not be televised.
The revolution will be no re-run brothers;
The revolution will be live.

*******************
Et Cetera

Secondhand Hearsay

The editor of WPW was with a lawyer supporting a lawsuit initiated by an ex-prisoner. The lawyer mentioned an interesting story, as follows: He was at a dinner party with some muckymucks (judges, DAs, lawyers, etc.) including a high ranking member of the DOJ. The DOJ official told him that he knows the DOC is corrupt and they (the DOJ) were silently pleased that a few good lawyers and prisoners were bringing some of the abuses to light so the corruption can be weeded out. This story should be a shout out to all jail-house lawyers – give yourself a pat on the back! The work you are doing does matter! There is an understanding, throughout the system, that the DOC is out of control. Keep up the good work!

********

Institutional Inertia or, On the Job Training

A prisoner at WSPF created a disturbance at his cell door when he knocked his meal tray off the door trap, into the hall. Two guards were at the scene, a new guy and a long timer. After some words, the long timer kicked the trap shut. A day or two later the CR arrived indicating how the prisoner had misbehaved. Later, the prisoner asked the new guard why there was no mention of how the other guard had kicked the trap shut. The new guard said, “I included that in my report but the white shirt had me rewrite it, leaving that part out.” Lesson learned.

********

For Some, Rules Apply

Our friend Matlock sends us word from KMCI that Deputy Warden Beck went on a foul mouthed abusive tirade directed at a group of prisoners. This kind of behavior is specifically NOT ALLOWED and is unprofessional, so Matlock went looking for an Inmate Complaint form and discovered that retribution and cover-up are swift and sure. He received 4 CRs – inciting a riot, group resistance, failure to obey an order and, disruptive conduct. He was thrown in the hole and kicked out of his required program with only two weeks to go. After sending letters to the press and legislators and outside supporters, the two major tickets were dropped and he was offered a chance to start his programming over next month. The two tickets that remain are being contested and if we know Matlock, a lawsuit against Beck is smoking in the typewriter.

page 4,

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PRISON ACTION WISCONSIN
P.O.Box 05669
Milwaukee, WI 53205
prisonactionwisconsin@gmail.com

Parole Commission Chair Alfonzo Graham
Wisconsin Parole Commission
3099 E. Washington
Madison, WI 53707

Dear Chairman Graham,

Our group has developed the following five points to express our deep frustration with the policies of your office. A clear response to these points would help us begin to understand how the Commission functions. Many of these concerns were expressed with our signs and chants in front of your office on September 22nd but we wanted to more clearly articulate these concerns and offer you an opportunity to respond.

Thank you
PAW steering committee

What we Believe, What we Want

1. We believe the Parole Commission is keeping prisoners longer than the intent of the legislature and sentencing judges. We believe the Parole Commission is keeping prisoners longer than is good for them, their families, and the community.

We want serious and realistic parole consideration at the legislatively mandated parole eligibility date.

2. We believe the Parole Commission is ideologically driven and making parole decisions based on politics.

We want the “tough-on-crime” mentality within the Parole Commission to end and parole decisions to be made on the basis of what is good for the community and good for the prisoner.

3. We believe the Parole Commission operates in a capricious and irregular manner.

We want consistency, predictability and transparency of process. We want prisoners and prisoner families to know and understand exactly what needs to be accomplished by prisoners for a meaningful parole consideration.

4. We believe the parole criteria, “has not served enough time for punishment”, is too subjective, arbitrary and beyond the scope of the Commission.

We want that criteria eliminated, as the punishment time was determined by the sentencing judge who was aware of all the facts of the case and who was guided by legislative intent.

5. We believe the criteria for meaningful parole consideration are ambiguous and the commission has no “standard” for measuring a prisoner’s success.

We want the Parole Commission to develop a standard model of criteria that gives guidance to parole commissioners, prisoners and DOC staff on the “parolability” of individual prisoners.

page 5,

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Hunger Strike Continues
by Warren Lilly #447655
New Lisbon Correctional

A friend of mine, upon hearing that I’d been maced and tazered by the guards at New Lisbon prison, urged me to “make them earn their pay” by continuing my hunger strike. I appreciate the support. I’ve refused prison food and authority for over four years and will not bow down, even to escalating violence.

However, something bothered me about my friend’s statement of support. That something was his unwillingness to “make them earn their pay.” During my four years of hunger striking I’ve met hundreds of prisoners who’ve stood behind my strike, way, way behind it. So far behind that they actually became invisible. I could still hear their distant and muffled shouts of “Go for it!”, but I just couldn’t see who was shouting it.

Such distant support makes it impossible t fight anything but a very lopsided war. One where the enemy, the Justice system, freely and purposely destroys our lives while we, the prisoners, just as freely give up our lives and freedoms.

We cower in the face of the imagined indestructibility of our enemy. We make it easy for our enemy to scorn, despise, and abuse us. We believe their propaganda that says we we are worthless and powerless, and that they have the right to control and waste our lives.

We fear to take even the riskless chances to fight for freedom and life or to assert our personhood. Less than a hundred of the twenty-two thousand prisoners answered my call to fast with me on Sundays then to send our moralless governor a letter demanding change.

To those who fasted I send my heartfelt thanks and ask you to continue fasting and recruit others. Hold a “fast-in” after the skipped meals to gather and write letters of support for the cause and protest of imprisonment to the governor.

To those who fear to fast, I ask what risk is there in forsaking a meal in support of a stand, or writing a letter of protest? We have let our fears conquer our personhood and rule our reason, and by doing so have abandoned life and liberty in favor of the false safety of cowardice.

I’m reminded of the time in my youth when people would say “when the revolution comes I’m gonna…” Well, the revolution never came because no one brought it forth. Now, like then, people sit and wait for others to blaze the trail so that they can travel it without sacrifice, without difficulty, without personal strife.

I waited forty years for the revolution to come. I let the world go from bad to worse, and now at nearly sixty years of age, the truth has dawned on me, a very simple truth: If it’s to be, it’s up to me.

“If it’s to be, it’s up to me”. So powerful a revelation in such a simple and yet painfully obvious truth. A god is not coming to save me or make right the wrongs of others, good is not about to spring from bad nor virtue from evil, and the only thing that will happen to those who treat me cruelly is that they will prosper upon my misery. Those are the lessons of life. Another lesson, a hope filled one, is that those who strive for justice and peace and freedom achieve it.

The revolution is here, the revolution is now, do something to sustain it, stand up for something. Begin by reading the letter to the governor and understanding this protest, then hold a “fast-in” and get those letters mailed. Find a non-violent way to “make them earn their pay”.

Stop buying the propaganda that your life is worthless, that you are powerless, and that they have the right to control and waste your life. Stop cowering before the paper tigers and giant shadows cast by imperious runts. Abandon your fears, be driven by the simple truth, “If it’s to be, it’s up to me”.

******************************

REVOCATION: The Life Blood of Corrections
by Mike Weston #000155
RCI, Sturtevant, WI

Late in his tenure as secretary of the Department of Corrections (DOC), Michael Sullivan said on television that men would “No longer be sent back to prison for rule violations”. The sole exception to this radical mandate would be failing a urinalysis test, implying possession and use of forbidden head candy.

Given that the never-ending flow of humans returned to the doc as rule violators never ended, it is eminently logical to hold that king Tommy Thompson promptly called Sullivan and demanded of him a reply to “ What the hell are you doing!?” The new policy was silently rescinded…..

The king was erecting his prison empire and here one of his lap dogs was attempting to abort the birth by terminating the death march from liberty to the slow death chambers of the DOC.

Since some 54% of the prison population is comprised of probation and parole (P+P) violators, it is uniquely self-evident that the system would collapse were the DOC’s division of community corrections (DCC), under whose egis exist the apparatchiks of P+P, the agents, indeed ordered to cease revocating all those who have not violated a statute (and releasing now all those returned for violations).

When one rationally presumed sanity might crawl out from ‘neath the detritus of the king’s reign with the ascension to the throne of Jim Doyle, an alleged democrat who, erroneously it appears, was touted as left-to-moderate on social issues, all that really eventuated is that Doyle is the mirror-image of his supposed arch enemy and nemesis, King Tommy.

When it comes to “corrections”, both willingly sacrifice lives and untold wealth from the pockets of citizens. So as to maintain the prison empire at its artificially inflated state of over 22,000 prisoners.

Tommy did it deliberately, Doyle is too afraid to end the farce which has the DOC at least twice the size it should be by all rational and realistic determinants. For example, Minnesota’s prison population is 7,000. Wisconsin and the Gopher state are virtual clones in that all of the relevant demographics are mirror-images of one another.

The populations are the same, numerically, racially, economic status, education and the like; crime rates and offenses categories match well as do arrests and convictions. And yet, Minnesota knowingly incarcerates two-thirds less people than “wonderful WIsconsin”. Why here?

Indeed, on a per capita basis, Wisconsin is a “leader” in locking way human beings, despite the fact that our crooks, as a rule, are virtual “pussycats” compared to criminals in most other states! For instance, which Wisconsin warden would “trade” his prisoners one-for-one with the warden of San Quentin? Again, why here?

In the December 2007 issue, in their article on parole and politics in WIsconsin, the authors provided the answer by quoting U.W. Law professor Walter Dickey’s public statement; “men are being kept in prison because of money and politics”. Obviously, they cannot be kept there if not first sent there…. and remember, Professor Dickey was the first DOC secretary, he knows of what he speaks – while Doyle and State and Federal Justice personnel ignore the criminal activity implicit in Dickey’s charge.

The criminal justice” and “corrections” systems are growth industries and are subsidized by Wisconsin and federal funds flooding law enforcement and corrections like hurricane rains. No other industry has the stability, money and growth potential of the DOC – the fat sow at the public trough gulping down more tax dollars than any other element of Wisconsin government.

The plethora of “correctional” facilities planted throughout the kingdom by Tommy are the cash cows for the locales in which they fester. Tommy gained power and support from weed beds as well as “rewards” from the Federal government for locking up everyone in sight, i.e., the poor and minorities, and bribes from construction companies and others building and equipping the prison empire: they donated millions to Tommy’s campaign, to his puppet successor, McCallum, and to our “enlightened” current governor, remember “money and politics” rule in sending people to and keeping them in prison…

There is a distinct racial factor in all of this: Milwaukee and Racine, more than other counties, deny legitimate opportunities to minorities and then jail them at record rates when they rebel at being suppressed and denied their humanity.
It is fully documented that WIsconsin owns the nation’s highest incarceration rate of minorities: further, over two-thirds of Wisconsin prisoners are African American. Another effect of racism is that many lack educational levels commensurate with their ages. This debilitation is both aggravated and reinforced by the deficient, nickel and dime DOC education system which is little more than a mill grinding out “graduates” now blessed with a GED certificate signifying nothing of merit.
These “programs”, completely devoid of substance and depth, are offered under the guise of “rehabilitation”, but are either debilitating or serve simply to reinforce the criminality they purport to treat.

The manifest and cumulative results of incarceration, ever demonstrable, are in fact the stated reinforcement of criminality leading to the DOC’s egregious failure to redirect the lives of prisoners. The goal of the DOC (it is clear), its very raison d’etre (reason for existence), is infact to ensure recidivism.

The methodology is simple: The economic and political systems create criminals, their “criminal justice” system sends the felons to the DOC which later sends those people to the DCC who then seek out petty, trivial or false “reason” to revocate one’s liberty. The DCC files revocation papers with the third leg of this eternal triangle, the department of administration’s division of hearings and appeals who send the violators back to the DOC!

Once the revocation process begins, fughetdaboutdit! administrator David Schwarz rarely reverses a verdict to revoke liberty: he and his boss, DOA secretary Mike Morgan, are also Doyle lap dogs ordered to revocate as many probationers and parolees as possible to maintain the inflated prison population.

The system is clear: send people to the DOC, reinforce their problems, send them to the DCC, find “reasons” to revoke, send them to DOA’s hearings and appeals who then ship them back to the DOC – round and round she goes, where she stops is the permanent count of 22,000 humans in prison on a daily basis.

Doyle prides himself on adopting two African American boys and on his support for Senator Obama, while he oversees a racial disaster in the state and in the DOC – his DOC.

Doyle and his crew fear that if the river to nowhere ended, half to DOC would shut down: that is not true. Every facility is overcrowded, if all rule violators were released each facility would still have all their beds filled when they go from the current four, three or two in a room to single man rooms.

This would free up the people, time and resources to truly attempt to help those in prisons sent by the courts, not DCC and DOA for a rule violations.

Governor, implement Sullivan’s aborted policy to not revocate for rules violations…

**********

WANTED – ARTWORK BY PRISONERS

Wisconsin Books to Prisoners was the recipient of a powerful set of posters created by 20 printmakers from the JUSTSEEDS Visual Resistance art collective. These posters were created in anticipation of the 10th anniversary of Critical Resistance, a prison abolitionist movement, and call attention to the human rights catastrophe in U.S. jails and prisons, and the use of policing, prisons and punishment as a “solution” to social, political and economic problems.

The posters and artwork by prisoners will be displayed at a gallery in Madison –mostly likely in February of 2009. Art that addresses the condition of prisons and the daily drudgery and cruelties of prison life would be particularly appreciated.

Please do not send anything that you want returned or is not copyright free. Also, please let us know how you wish to be (or not be) identified. Many thanks in advance to those who make contributions to this event.

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Inmates Bring Civil Rights Class Action Against Becker County

Becker County, Minnesota and several of its law enforcement officials are facing a civil rights class action lawsuit. The suit, brought by inmates at the county jail, alleges that the county illegally monitored and possibly recorded confidential and privileged telephone calls between inmates at the jail and their attorneys.

According to the suit, the inmates of the jail and their attorneys are informed in writing that attorney/client telephone calls are confidential and consequently not subject to monitoring or recording. However, the suit alleges that illegal monitoring of telephone calls to discuss inmates’ cases has taken place, and the information gained has been used against the inmates during prosecution.

Editor’s note – This article caught our eye because we heard from a comrade at WSPF who discovered that a privileged phone call made to his attorney had been recorded. We called the warden who confirmed that “all day room phones are monitored and prisoners calling their attorneys from those phones should not expect privacy”. He also said that “we are going to post this information at those phones.” The signs were not yet posted a week after our conversation with the warden.

page 6.

Wisconsin Prison Watch – September 2008 newsletter

Wisconsin Prison Watch
September, 2008

U.S. Constitution, Amendment XIII: Neither slavery or involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime…

Friends,

First off, my apologies for the confusion. July’s newsletter was wrongly dated (May) and the return address was that of the defunct PAC. Any mail sent to the PAC address has been forwarded to WPW. Thanks to all of you who sent a check or stamps for a subscription. This will be the last newsletter sent to those who have not subscribed and remember, we do not demand payment. If you’re indigent or only have a few stamps and want the newsletter, just let us know. If you’re flush and want to send us something extra, well, it’s much appreciated. We’re going to keep going as long as we can.

This issue is different than the last; not many “breaking news” stories of abuse and neglect and no reports of courtroom victories. This newsletter is filled with stories by prisoners and prisoners now living outside the walls. The stories are not “news” but they should be. What these guys are talking about happens every day to prisoners in Wisconsin and has become “normal”.

What’s important about their stories, is that they are telling them. They are unafraid of reprisal or retribution. They know that sitting back and “taking it” is not a way out, it’s not a solution. They refuse to let the system degrade and dehumanize them.

The point is, filing complaints and appealing the rejection and taking things to court or to the press or to the outside is the only way to retain any sense of dignity. Fighting for dignity and humanity is all they have left – everything else has been stripped away by the system. They refuse to let the system strip away the only thing remaining. Nuf said.

We know the guards’ union and others are ginning up another try at John Doe “reform”. They say this is needed because prisoners abuse the system. Well, let’s talk about abusing the system. Ken Harris (Matlock) has been trying to get two perps in front of a judge for three years now. Yes, a judge found probable cause THREE YEARS ago!! How long did it take for you to get convicted? That’s abuse of the system!

In case 2007 CF 380, Dodge County, a guard was charged with felony abuse of a prisoner. I went to CCAP to review the case and found it had disappeared!! I called the Dodge Clerk of Courts and was told that the case had been expunged!! Expunged!? Cases cannot be expunged!! My name is on CCAP even though charges against me were dropped and I won a suit against the city of Platteville for false arrest. I asked that my case be expunged and was told “that is not possible”. I guess it’s only possible if you belong to the club. Even a pissant guard gets special treatment because he belongs to the club. That’s abuse of the system!!

In the above case, the accused guard quickly filed a complaint against the prisoner saying that the prisoner bit him. DA Bauer was quick to charge the prisoner, threatening him with a twelve year sentence, but at preliminary hearing, the DA had to drop the charges because it was obvious that the guard was lying.

When the guard union started pushing for John Doe “reform” last year, DA Bauer was right there in front of the cameras with warden Thurmer and Secretary Raemisch, squealing about how prisoners abuse the system. DA Bauer is now Judge Bauer taking the newly created 4th branch in Dodge County.

The Wisconsin State Journal, Sunday August 24 has a story of a Sauk Co. cop who willfully and knowing ran over his girlfriend. Columbia Co. DA was brought in as special prosecutor and guess what, without contacting the victim, “a deal was made” and charges were dropped.

We all know that “justice” is a concept that only applies to the connected, the rich, and those who work for the system. The poor, the disenfranchised, the addicted, and mentally ill get a different kind of “justice” – swift and sure. Poverty, and desperation along with addiction and mental illness are criminalized while exploitation, cruelty and arrogance are handsomely rewarded. Different standards apply. If you wear a uniform, a robe, or a business suit, the laws work to protect you and your property. If not, watch out!

Wisconsin Books to Prisoners Project has sent thousands of books to Wisconsin prisoners, free of charge. The all volunteer staff has devoted thousands of hours and spent thousands of dollars trying to help prisoners help themselves. This sort of self help and autonomy are frightening to the DOC who want to control every aspect of your lives. They have used the pretense of “security” (the universal trump card) to ban WBTP from sending free books to prisoners. No other state has banned WBTP from sending books directly to prisoners. Many other prison book projects in other states send books into Wisconsin prisons. The courts will probably have to sort this out – just like they did with our newsletter.

WPW has filed an open records request with the Parole Chair, Al Graham, for all the minutes of every meeting of the Commission since his appointment. We’ve asked for any correspondence with the Governor’s office regarding parole policy and criteria for parole. We want to know how his office is wasting a million dollars a year pretending to give meaningful parole consideration.

We know the Parole Board, the PRC and BOCM are part of the merry-go-round the DOC uses to keep prisoners longer than needed. We’ve been informed by a few guys stuck in the “Bermuda Triangle” of CCI barracks where classification and movement come to a halt. This so-called “transition facility” is an interim placement for those moving from maximum and medium to minimum settings, but it has become a holding pen where guys languish for many months “waiting for bed space”. In the mean time, the Parole Commissioners will not even consider parole for them because they are not at a minimum setting. Just another part of the Merry-go-round.

Here’s another Merry-go-round scheme. Say that PRC recommends a minimum placement but BOCM head Heise disapproves. Guess who evaluates the appeal? One of Mr. Heise’ subordinates! Yeah right, that’s a meaningful review where a subordinate evaluates his boss’ decision.

Onward!
Power to all the people!
WPW & PAW

WISCONSIN PRISON WATCH P.O. Box 292, Boscobel, WI 53805 wiprisonwatch@tds.net

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page 2,

Wisconsin Prison Watch Legal Primer
Subject: John Doe Proceedings, Wisconsin Stats. s. 968.26.

My name is Dujuan M. Walker. I am a former prisoner and current full-time college paralegal student, member of Wisconsin Prison Watch Legal Team, and member of Prison Action Wisconsin (PAW). Our goal of the WPW Legal Team is to educate prisoners and to help them expand their resources so that they are not powerless against official corruption inside and outside of the Department of Corrections.

When prisoners’ rights are violated, the United States Constitution provides that these prisoners shall have access to the Court System for a meaningful redress of their grievances. In most cases, when a prison official has violated the civil rights of a prisoner, that official has also violated state and/or federal criminal statutes in the perpetration of the civil rights violation. For instance, when a prisoner is beaten by prison staff or denied medical care or left naked in a barren cell for several days, etc., a prisoner may have a cognizable claim in Federal Court for violations of the U.S. Constitution (See: 42 U.S.C. s.1983), or in State civil court for intentional tort claims, medical malpractice, etc.. Of course in civil court a prisoner’s remedies are limited to monetary damages and injunctive relief against the perpetrators. However, the judicial system offers another remedy. The same prison official(s) who committed the above stated civil rights violations are guilty of violating Wisconsin Statute s. 940.29, “Abuse of a Person In a Correctional Institution.” This crime is a Class I felony and punishable by three years in prison and fines. The statute which directs and authorizes a judge to investigate your claims of criminal conduct by prison staff and to file criminal charges after the judge has found probable cause against the perpetrators is 968.26, stats., and this statute is called the “John Doe” statute.

When a complainant files a petition under 968.26 stating that he/she has “reason to believe that a crime has been committed” within the jurisdiction of the judge, the judge must examine the complainant and any witnesses in order to determine whether or not probable cause exists to charge the potential defendants with a crime. State ex.rel.Reimann v. Circuit Court214 Wis. 2d. 605, 611 (S.Ct.1997). The judge must act as a “neutral and detached magistrate” in his probable cause determination. State v. Washington, 266 N.W. 2d. 597, 605 (S.Ct.1978). The complainant need not offer proof that a crime has been committed, that it is more likely than not that it was committed, or need not offer evidence in his/her complaint, but only need to cross the “reason to believe” threshold. Reimann, Supra. Upon the request of the complainant, and at the judge’s discretion, a John Doe Proceeding may be conducted in secret in order to protect the complainant, prevent the perps from collecting perjured testimony, prevent them from escaping, tampering with evidence, or intimidating witnesses. State v. O`Connor, 252 N.W. 2d. 671, 678 (citing State ex.rel Jackson v. Coffey,18 Wis. 2d. 529, 546, 118 N.W. 2d. 939). Again, do not worry about being discriminated against because you are a prisoner, because the judge must act as a neutral and detached judge and “should not weigh the credibility of the complainant or choose between conflicting facts and inferences.” Reimann, supra, 214 Wis. 2d. at 625. (citation omitted). Also, do not worry about your complaint being inadequate, as you are a pro se (on your own) and untrained litigant and the courts must liberally construe your filed papers regardless of misspellings, improper form, etc. In addition, the courts have held that “Where a mere technical error on the face of the petition, or an inadequacy therein, can be cured by a simple request for additional information, justice may be best served under Wis. Stat. s. 968.26 by the judge simply making such request or examining the complainant.” State ex.rel. Williams v. Fiedler, 2005 WI. App. 91, 282 Wis. 2d. 486, 498-499(Ct. App. 2005).

Be sure to include the names of any and all witnesses in your complaint/petition and do not hesitate to include prison officials because although they will likely lie to cover up the crimes of their co-workers and their own crimes, you get them on record testifying under oath and committing perjury. The John Doe statute command a judge to summon any and all witnesses which you request so that they may be questioned under oath as to the matters alleged in your complaint. See: Williams v. Fiedler, supra. But use discretion and only request witnesses that you really feel have relevant information about the crimes committed against you.

The power of this statute is invaluable to prisoners. Past experience shows that district attorneys in the small, rural counties where most prisons are located are not exactly excited about prosecuting prison staff when they have violated and victimized prisoners. There are personal and political implications involved in situations such as this, and although these concerns are not supposed to take precedent over the Federal and State Constitutions, they almost always do.

However, the John Doe Statute and the caselaw which interprets it guarantees that a complainant is entitled to a “neutral and detached” judge. Of course there is no guarantee that a state judge, who is elected and not appointed, will obey the law if it would make him/her unpopular.( That is, if ruling in a prisoner’s favor will make the judge appear to be “soft on crime” the judge may ignore the law, in violation of his/her oath, in order to stay in good standings with prison staff and their political allies, etc.). In that case, a judge’s abuse of discretion would be reviewable by a higher court. But as long as you present “reason to believe” the judge must act. And during the investigative process hopefully the judge finds probable cause and appoints someone whose not afraid to prosecute state officials for violating the law.

Most prisoners simply file lawsuits when their rights are violate by neglectful, malicious, and vindictive prison staff. But filing criminal charges against them is another level of justice. The perpetrators cannot hide behind the state’s attorney general’s office and taxpayer money to represent them and cover the costs of the damages awards which they must disburse to prisoners after they’ve broken the law. In criminal court they must pay their own lawyers and do their own jail time if convicted, and pay their own fines.

In many cases when prisoners prevail in civil court and prove that prison officials violated their rights, the DOC continues to let those officials work for the department as if nothing ever happened, sometimes even promoting them. But when they are convicted of a crime for abusing, neglecting, or ill-treating a prisoner (940.29 stats.) or misconduct in public office (946.12), etc, then they can no longer work in the DOC. Therefore justice is much more personal and other crooked “correctional” staff are deterred from violating prisoners’ rights.

This is not to say that suing prison officials is ineffective, on the contrary, you are entitled to a remedy in civil court as well. So bring both actions against the perpetrators who have violated your rights.

Should your criminal action not succeed then your burden of proof in the civil court is much lighter. Should the criminal action succeed, then your civil suit for money will be a “slam dunk”, as the perps will be collaterally estopped from denying certain facts which were already proven in criminal court! Stand up and defend your dignity against people that will not respect the fact that you are human beings!

If you have any questions or comments please contact me at the WPW address as soon as possible. I will respond as time permits, as I am gainfully employed, a full-time college student, and involved in several projects that are developing to benefit our communities. We wish you well in this struggle for justice and equality.

In Solidarity

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page 3,

“I should have been a cow!”
by Kenneth Harris #062836 AKA: Matlock

Recently the news reported about how cows at the slaughterhouse slated to become hamburger had been abused, and the abusers were dealt swift justice in order to protect the future hamburgers rights. On April 17, 2005, I was abused by guards at the Columbia Correctional Institution (CCI), which sent me to the hospital. Since cows received swift justice, I expected the same, but I was wrong. For details see Harris v. Grams, 2008 u.s. Dist. Lexis 3103, District Court Case No. 3:07-cv-678-bbc.

Prior to me filing the federal lawsuit, pro se, on April 24, 2005, I filed a John Doe complaint with the Columbia County Circuit Court pursuant to wis. Stat. ~968.26 alleging that I was the victim of crimes committed by CCI staff.

On September 14, 2005 the hearing was held in front of the Hon. Daniel S. George, Branch I, of the circuit court. I supplied the court with affidavits of nine witnesses, and I subpoenaed a nurse to whom the perps had bragged about what they did to me. On January 26, 2005 the court found “probable cause” that the guards abused me. Once this happened the cover up machine of the DOC and the state went to work, by first going after the nurse who testified to the truth. To see what the DOC did to this nurse, read page 3 of the May 2008 edition of the “Wisconsin Prison Watch” newsletter.

Once probable cause of a crime was found, the Judge referred the case to the Columbia County D.A, who never contacted me, nor any of my witnesses, and left the case stagnant for months. I contacted the court, and on March 14, 2006, the court again referred the case to the D. A., who again never contacted me, “THE VICTIM!” I then filed a motion with the court to get the D.A. to do his job and prosecute the perps. On January 31, 2007 (over one year after I filed the complaint, and nine months after the court referred the case to the D.A. a second time) the D.A. now informs the court that the “D.A.’s office had not had the opportunity to review the transcripts of the September 14, 2005 court proceedings.” On February 14, 2007 the court gave the D.A. 30-days to review the transcripts and the record of the John Doe proceeding, and report to the court.

Six months went by and neither I nor the court had heard from the D.A, which caused me to file more motions with the court trying to get (now unswift) justice. I asked for a court date to argue the issue of a biased D.A’s office, and the motion was granted. The end result was that I also filed a motion for a “Special Prosecutor” to be brought in pursuant to wis. Stat. §978.045(lg) and prosecute the perps. On August 13, 2007, the motion was granted, and on September 17, 2007, the court appointed Patricia Barrett, Sauk County D.A. as the Special Prosecutor for the criminal John Doe case. It is now July 13, 2008, or over nine months since Ms. Barrett became the Special Prosecutor, but like the Columbia County D.A.’s office, Ms. Barrett never responds to my letters, and she contacted me once, and that was in response to WPW s Frank Van den Bosch calling her and asking why this case is not being prosecuted. The Wisconsin Constitution provides residents of the State of Wisconsin court access and rights, as it states:

“Remedy for wrongs. Section 9. Every person is entitled to a certain remedy in the laws for all injuries, or wrongs which he may receive in his person, property, or character, he ought to obtain justice freely, and without being obliged to purchase it, completely and without denial, promptly and without delay.”

See Article 1, § 9 of the State Consti-tution. In my case, it appears that the words “completely and without denial,” and “promptly and without delay” were removed from the State Constitution, as the case is now three years and three months old, yet the case remains stagnant, this in spite of the fact that there were nine witnesses, and a nurse whose credentials were impeccable. Looking further into the State Constitution it states in relevant part:

“Victims of crime. Section 9m. … This state shall treat crime victims, as defined by law, with fairness, dignity and respect for their privacy. This state shall ensure that crime victims have all of the following privileges and protections as provided by law; timely disposition of the case; . . . . “

See Article I, §9 of the State Constitution. In my case the “fairness,” and the “timely disposition of the case” were thrown out the window by both D.A.’s offices, and it appears that I can’t get help from the court. What’s interesting about this is the fact that the state has prosecuted citizens with far less or no reliable evidence or witnesses, and gave them big time in prison, yet this case has both reliable witnesses and evidence, and here it is over three years later and no prosecution.
WPW’s Mr. Frank Van den Bosch has repeatedly called Ms. Barrett and left messages with her asking that she return his calls, but as of late she refuses to. No matter, a trial date of March 9, 2009 has been set by the federal courts, so I will see the perps in court.

A blowhard Senator, one Jeff Fitzgerald was on the radio bragging how “no prisoner John Doe has ever been successful, thus John Doe reform is needed so prisoner’s cannot use the statute.”

Of course, this case alone shows exactly why no prisoner John Doe has been successful, and it’s because the state’s and the DOC’s massive cover up machines see to it that none are. If this case had no merit it would not still be languishing as if stuck in an ocean of goo, the goo being a quagmire of bureaucracy, as no D.A. wants to be the one to break the state’s record of ZERO successful prisoner John Does. It appears that the “Special Prosecutors” give prison guards “Special Protection.”

Finally, this case needs the help of other prisoners, both incarcerated and free. I ask that you bombard Ms. Barrett with letters asking why this case is not being prosecuted. Ms. Barrett’s address is: Sauk County Courthouse, 515 Oak Street, Baraboo, WI 53913, and write to Prisoner Action Wisconsin (PAW), and the WPW, as well as Senator Lena Taylor and others. Comrades, it is time that we prisoners band together and use the courts and legislature to fight the corruption that runs rampant and unchecked in the DOC, and we must fight for each other, as this case shows why John Doe Reform must never happen. Remember, “A coward dies many deaths, but the brave die but once!” Until next time, all I can say is, “I SHOULD HAVE BEEN A COW, MOOOOOOO!

Sincerely,

Comrade Kenneth Harris AKA Matlock

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page 4,

U.N. Investigation

In 1964 Malcolm X gave a famous speech called “The Ballot or the Bullet”. In that speech he accused the United States of violating the human rights of twenty-two million Afrikan Amerikans and vowed to take this complaint to the United Nations.

Over the past few years, the United Nations has conducted an investigation into contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance. Reports to the U.N. have urged the U.S. to halt racial profiling of Muslims and Arabs, to place a moratorium on the death penalty and to end the sentencing of youth to life in prison until the racial bias in the justice system is uprooted.

Stan Willis, a civil rights attorney and Chair of Black People Against Torture said, “part of the reason why the U.S. thumbs its nose at the U.N. is because Americans are ignorant about the World body and how to use it for change.”

My brothers and sisters, not a day goes by that the DOC staff does not commit an act of what I call “Prison Staff Terrorism.” The last issue of WPW had an article that exposed the retaliation of DOC bureaucrats against a psychiatrist who refused to change a prisoner’s diagnosis. Dr Narinder Saini says that refusal to change the diagnosis cost him his job. The DOC wanted to send this mentally ill prisoner to the mental torture chambers of WSPF. I’ve sent a copy of that article to the Special Rapporteur.

Wisconsin has a long history of racist prison staff using their power and prison regulations to harass, intimidate, & terrorize New Afrikan and Latino prisoners. It’s important that we contribute our experiences to this U.N. Commission. Attorney Willis also said, “pushing Black concerns in the international arena does not replace hard work on the ground in Amerika. The work against racism has to continue on the domestic front, but Blacks should learn and use the United Nations structures as another tool against oppression.”

I encourage all New Afrikan, Latino, Native Amerikans, Muslims and all prisoners of color to write and give their personal accounts of racial discrimination and DOC Staff Terrorism, especially those of you on administrative confinement.

May Allah guard, guide and bless us all.
Comrade Muhammad Crutchfield #224332 CCI

Individual complaints
from the U.N. website

Upon receiving reliable and credible information the Special Rapporteur transmits, either under the form of an allegation letter or urgent appeal, information or case summaries concerning alleged violations regarding contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination and related intolerance to the State concerned, in order to induce the national authority to undertake the necessary investigations of all the incidents or individual cases reported. The Rapporteur will also ask to be kept informed of the outcome of the investigations carried out.

Consideration of communications concerning human rights violations will enable contemporary forms of racial discrimination to be detected and identified accurately. The analysis of these cases of alleged violations and government replies will help towards a better grasp of manifestations of racial discrimination and thus help to identify and determine indicators of its contemporary forms.

Please note, that as a general rule, both urgent appeals and letters of allegation remain confidential until published in the annual report of the Special Rapporteur to the Commission on Human Rights. A summary of such communications and the replies received from the concerned State are formally included in the Special Rapporteur’s annual report to the Commission.

Special Rapporteur of the Commission on Human Rights on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance
OHCHR-UNOG
8-14 Avenue de la Paix
1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland

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“Freedom to differ is not limited to things that do not matter much. That would be a mere shadow of freedom. The test of its substance is the right to differ as to things that touch the heart of the existing order.” : Justice Robert H. Jackson – (1892-1954), U. S. Supreme Court Justice Source: West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, 1943

From the Shawshank Redemption

The chairman of the parole board says, “The files say you have been locked up here for the past 40 years. Do you feel rehabilitated?”

Red looks at him and says, “Rehabilitated… well, let’s see… rehabilitated, I don’t have any idea what that means.”

The board member says, “That means, are you ready to re-enter society?”

Red says, “I know what you think it means, sonny. To me it is just a made-up word, a politician’s word so young fellows like yourself can have a suit and tie to have a job. What do you really want to know? Am I sorry for what I did?”

The parole board member responds, “Well, are you?”

Red says, “There is not a day that goes by I don’t feel regret. I look back on the way I was then, a young, stupid kid who committed that terrible crime. I want to talk to him, and try and make him see the way things are, but I can’t. That kid is long gone. This old man is all that is left. I’ve got to live with that.

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“He that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves, and sharpens our skill. Our antagonist is our helper.” — Edmund Burke

“The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity”: André Gide

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page 5,

DEMONSTRATION
AT THE WISCONSIN DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS
3099 E. WASHINGTON
MADISON, WI

SEPTEMBER 22, 2008
10:30 A.M.

WASTED MONEY
WASTED LIVES

SPONSORED BY
PRISON ACTION WISCONSIN INC.
P.O. BOX 05669
MILWAUKEE, WI 53205

* Demonstration and rally at DOC headquarters for the purpose of supporting our loved ones behind bars and for holding the Parole Commission to account for the waste of one million dollars per year of our money.
* The Parole Board is keeping our loved ones locked up beyond any reasonable time. They are violating the intention of the sentencing court for political and ideological reasons.
* We will be heard. Our concerns will be answered. Our loved ones will come home.

Busses leave from Lena’s Grocery in Midtown Mall at 9:30 A.M., Monday, September 22, 2008. They will return to Milwaukee in the early afternoon. Fare is on a sliding scale according to what you can afford. To save a seat, call Unity 414-491-6514 or Anthony at 414-464-9094.
or

Attend our next meeting, September 13, 2008, 10 A.M. until noon, at Johnson Park, 17th and Fon du Lac Ave., Milwaukee, WI. PAW is open to anyone concerned about the state of the criminal justice system, the prison system and the impact these systems have on our community. Come one, come all. Let’s make some noise!

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page 6,

Wisconsin Books to Prisoners/Rainbow Books
426 W. Gilman St., Madison, WI 53703

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 4, 2008

ARE WISCONSIN PRISONERS LOSING THE RIGHT TO READ?

WISCONSIN DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTIONS BANS WISCONSIN BOOKS TO PRISONERS FROM SENDING BOOKS TO ALL PRISONERS IN WISCONSIN

Wisconsin Books to Prisoners (WBTP), an all-volunteer group established in 2006 by Rainbow Bookstore staff, volunteers, and other concerned citizens received a letter on May 13, 2008 from John Bett, Administrator at the Wisconsin Department of Corrections Division of Adult Institutions (WI-DOC-DAI) stating “effective immediately, the WI-DOC Division of Adult Institutions will no longer allow books or publications from Rainbow Bookstores in any DOC facility.”

Mr. Bett’s letter stated that DAI policy required books and other publications to be new, shipped to the facility directly from the vendor, and claimed that Rainbow Bookstore was not a vendor.

Rainbow Bookstore, however has been incorporated in WI since 1989, and has operated a retail bookstore at 426 W. Gilman St. in Madison ever since. WBTP sent this information to Mr. Bett on June 6th, who then responded on July 2nd informing Rainbow Bookstore that the DOC-DAI requires all approved inmate property items to be “received new and from an approved vendor.”

The DOC Administrative Code, however, distinguishes between inmate property and publications in specific listings of the code. Although the code for inmate property indicates that property must come from “approved retail outlets,” this language does not appear in the code for receipt of publications, nor does the code specify that books and publication must be new. The code in fact says: “The department shall facilitate inmate reading of publications, including books, magazines, newspapers, and pamphlets” -a policy that should be applauded given that a wide variety of studies indicate that in-prison education reduces rates of recidivism. The policy also states that inmates may receive publications directly from commercial sources.

Wisconsin Books to Prisoners has asked Mr. Bett to supply information about how to apply for approved vendor status. The DOC has not responded.

Since their inception, Wisconsin Books to Prisoners has sent over 4000 packages of books nationwide. Wisconsin is the only state in the U.S. that is banning books to prisoners.

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Critical Resistance
10 year Anniversary Conference
September 26-28
Oakland, CA

Members of PAW, WBTP, and WPW will attend this conference. We’ll report in the next (November) newsletter.
Update on Warren Lilly

The DOC, in an effort to stop Warren’s 1200 day hunger strike, began a new force feeding regime where they kept Warren strapped down with a tube in his nose for two hours, three times a day, six days a week. The pretense for this cruelty was to “insure Mr. Lilly would not regurgitate his food”. Warren has never vomited his food. This was pure and intentional torture. He went to court and won an injunction to stop the torture. The feedings are again one half hour in length.

While strapped down with a tube in his nose, another group of goons entered his cell and stole all his legal work and his address book. He remembered my address and has sent word out that he needs support. He asks that others join him, fasting every Sunday in solidarity with his struggle. Write the Governor and let Warren know you’re taking part in this protest.

September 1, 2008

Governor Jim Doyle
Office of the Governor
P.O. Box 7863
Madison, WI 53707-7863
ph. 608-266-1212 fax 608-267-8983

Dear Governor Doyle,

On Sunday, (Month, Day, Year), I fasted with Warren Lilly, Jr., a hunger striking Wisconsin prisoner, in support of the following objectives:

1.) The immediate reduction of the national (city, county, state, federaL) prison population by 70 – 80% through the release of all non-violent offenders.

2.) The nationalization of state’s laws which govern imprisonment. We are a nation of people not a nation of states. The laws we face, which affect our freedom, must be uniform.

3.) A national limit on the number of Americans that can be held, by any authority, to 1 in 1250 per census population.

4.) The abolition of parole and probation. They serve no function other than to extend imprisonment, and to entrap those least likely to obey severe limitations on their freedoms.

5.) The re-enfranchisement of all disenfranchised Americans, and the abolition of the practice of disenfranchisement. There must be an end to retribution. To perpetually punish an individual for a past wrong is a wrong in itself.

Warren’s pledge of support to these objectives is his more than three years of hunger striking. I pledge to support his strike and objectives. I call upon you, as Governor to embrace these objectives and put an end to how your father described the institution of prisons, “… as intolerable within the United States as the institution of slavery, equally brutalizing to all involved, equally toxic to the social system, equally subversive to the brotherhood of man, even more costly by some standards, and probably less rational.”

Sincerely,

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“Integrity is telling myself the truth. And honesty is telling the truth to other people”: Spencer Johnson

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page 7,

COINTELPRO , RGCI and Cowardly Complicit “Inmates”
by Carlos Abadia

COINTELPRO (an acronym for Counter Intelligence Program) was a series of covert and often illegal projects conducted by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation aimed at investigating and disrupting dissident political organizations within the United States. The FBI motivation at the time was “protecting national security, preventing violence, and maintaining the existing social and political order.”

The FBI used many COINTELPRO tactics to break up many political groups such as The Black Panthers Party, The American Indian Movement, the Communist Party and Students for a Democratic Society. People like Martin Luther King and Caesar Chavez were also targeted along with many others.

They infiltrated, used informants, wrote false letters, and used other dirty tricks to pit one member of a group against another. This in fighting disrupted the real mission of many groups. Need I say more when I say don’t forget AIM and the Panthers and SDS?

Here at Red-Planet Corruptional Institution we have our own brand of COINTELPRO. The J. Edgar Hoover wannabes accused me of posting anonymous messages regarding John Doe reform and favoritism by staff for their pet “inmates”. I was hauled off to the catacombs of segregation, questioned and taunted. I was told that if I admitted to authorship of these notes, “a deal could be made”. I refused. The offer was brought again after further threats of Boscobel, Administrative Confinement and so called “proof”; I refused! The false and stacked up charges and lies against me were part of a conduct report fabricated by RGCI staff. All sorts of “evidence” was claimed to prove my guilt, but nothing was ever presented because they knew I had real evidence to counter the bogus CR. Some “inmates” who claimed knowledge (lied) of my authorship of these offending notes got special treatment; one was sent to Fox Lake CI, and the list goes on.

When special treatment is handed down by prison staff to “inmates” for lying on another prisoner, the entire system breaks down. Of course, gossiping “inmates” will lie for a better job (or any job) or a transfer or some special treatment. When staff encourage lying and engage in playing one prisoner against another, COINTELPRO is at work. But it only works when prisoners become “inmates”, when they forget who their comrades are, when they put their own personal interests above the interests of all prisoners.

I stood up and called these people out. I wrote to my representative, I wrote to WPW, I wrote to the press, I alerted my entire network of outside support and what I got in return was retaliation by staff and a stab in the back by “inmates”.

My legal mail was “inadvertently” opened. My job was taken away. My property was stolen (by my “inmate” cellie) while I was in seg. and the prison refuses to investigate. Prisoners who lined up to lie on me were shocked to learn there was no 360 or Boscobel. My family, network and support system were lied to by the Evil Empire of family run and operated, crony & nepotist system. I had to defend myself from these false charges. And I had to endure all this stress.

To those who understand, this article is written as a way to expose the “normality” of this incident. The staff mentality of hyper-security and petty tyranny is normal. The retribution and blatant reprisal for filing complaints is a daily life occurrence for most prisoners and most prisoners accept this or are cowed by it. Accepting this shit is NOT acceptable. I pray for the day that inmates become prisoners and set aside their opium of choice – TV, radios, game boards and sports – and wake up to the reality.

The goons in uniform cannot stand a challenge and they are continuously looking for petty rule infractions to justify their existence. Their petty minds create fantasies of plot and mayhem so they can justify their abuse, lock-downs, pay raises and overtime.

In closing, inmates and prisoners both know that I have always stood up for them and helped them, legally, to stick it to the Department of Corruption! I’m done. From now on I’ll only accept applications from prisoners – “inmates” need not apply.

in solidarity

“A guards’ job is talking, not yelling. A guard who is yelling at prisoners has lost control”

WISCONSIN’S ROBBER BARON
By Guiseppe DiPiazza

On June 1, 2004 the Wisconsin Department of Corrections (DOC) instituted a change in policy, which stipulated that the families and friends of prisoners could only send money in in the form of cashiers checks, and money orders, for prisoners’ benefit. Cash, and personal checks were no longer permitted.

Prisoners as a whole, come from the lower social economic spectrum of society. Therefore this change in policy has put a financial strain on both prisoners and their loved ones. Where once friends could slide a dollar or two in with a letter, now the first couple of dollars is spent purchasing a cashiers check or money order. This means many prisoners, the largest percentage of whom are paid $1 a week, no longer have the financial help they need for the mere necessities (e.g. toothbrush, soap, shampoo, etc.).

But was this change in policy legal? No, according to Ron Sklansky of the Wisconsin legislative council staff. According to Sklansky the “agency must follow the rules it promulgates in the administrative code.” Those rules are very clear in stating that “all money in any form” shall be credited to the appropriate prisoner account. Clearly allowing for personal checks and cash to be sent to prisoners.

Several prisoners have filed complaints, using the DOC’s Inmate Complaint Review System (ICRS), noting the DOC’s violation of administrative code. The DOC has acknowledged they are in violation of this rule, but refuse to change their policy. Which begs the question why would the DOC want to illegally funnel money from prisoners, their families and friends into the pockets of the financial institutions, and big businesses that sell money orders?

The definition of exploitation is those in power taking advantage of those they have power over, which this is a classic example of. This is yet another example of the state’s DOC robbing money from the have nots – this time illegally – and putting it into the hands of the wealthy. It is time to make some noise. Tell the DOC that they are not above the law. We need to start writing letters, and e-mailing our state representatives, placing posts on internet message boards, and blogs. Stop this government sanctioned theft.

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page 8,

An Appeal from Moso

Dear Comrades,

Just a short article to get the news out about the last case we just won in the Federal Court in Johnson V. Raemisch, et al. We had litigated that case on grounds that I produced the documentation to prove everything said in the articles they objected to as “inflammatory” and a “threat to security” was actually true.

The court quoted my words in its opinion, where I argued this is a case where the Emperor has no clothes on, as they didn’t want the published articles to “expose” what they were doing. But once the court was presented with the documents showing everything said was true regarding the secret deal made to keep prisoners locked up in prison who are under the old law by blocking release on parole. The powerful Guard and Police Unions forced changes in the law that stripped a lot of our rights in court. Now they are careless and arrogant and have no regards for how they treat us.

Some of the points I made in the “offending” article and proved to true in front of Judge Crabb were: 1. The political scheme of the Republicans when they controlled the Federal government, was to block Democratic voter turn out by locking up minorities and others they felt would vote Democratic. 2. The corruption of the Parole Commission, making decisions to carry out the Governor’s political agenda, rather than use legal criteria for parole consideration. 3. The lack of any accountability of the lower level prison staff who make the PRC and programming decisions.

I produced all the documentation that proved each and every allegation published in the paper and argued the defendants knew it was all true, and their decision to block delivery of the publication was to keep it all under wraps, a “cover-up” if you will. They made their mistake by attempting to argue the articles were spreading “false” information, and thus it was “Inflammatory”. They didn’t anticipate that I had the evidence to prove it, which included a lot of confidential documents. This is what blew them out of the water.

I even produced a secret email, that accidentally “leaked” into my possession, where it showed two right-wing judges conspiring with each other trying to figure out a legal angle to block an inmate from relief on his post conviction motion. The inmate had proved he was correct under the law, which was admitted in the communication but, the judges had no intention on providing him with any relief. I’m sure Barbara Crabb was impressed with such documentation proving the articles were not based on the ravings of some left-wing radicals in prisons trying to simply stir up a riot. This is the picture the defendants tried to paint. A bunch of whining prisoners making outlandish accusations against these “honest” prison and government officials. Well the proof was in the pudding, and we produced the pudding.

However, I must complain that I had asked for more members to join this lawsuit, but no one else was willing to step up to the plate. We could have won a large settlement had most of you done so. We have entered a settlement and one fourth of the settlement was donated to the WPW. It really wasn’t for the money, but instead the principle and to stand up for what we believe in.

In any case, it’s time for others to make some sort of contribution. As I have said in the past, which is now coming to the light, the political winds are changing. And we have our voice loud enough, it will now get heard. It will take contributions so the machine can continue. All of you who will get some benefits of what this organization is trying to do, send in a couple of dollars. As stated before, you can send it straight out of your prison account. There is nothing more that would cause these people concern than to see us support this chance we have to change “politics as usual”. So if you want to do more than talk, send in what you can. The time is coming when we will need to move and make things happen to help all of us.

One,

Moso

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It is easier to find a score of men wise enough to discover the truth than to find one intrepid enough, in the face of opposition to stand up for it: A. A. Hodge

WSPF-GP Frequently Asked Questions – Answered
by Shawn L. Pierce

Many of you have seen the advertisement for “volunteers” to join WSPF-General population which was used to trick “fools” like me. Here’s a REAL Frequently Asked Question sheet

1. Question: Is there a library?

Answer: There are 4 ranges on Charlie and only range 2 has a library which is only available on Saturday & Sunday.

2. Q: How about canteen?

A: The list is considerably smaller than at other institutions and the prices are three times higher. Staff buy the same items for a lower price. The $3.50 bi-weekly we get doesn’t buy anything.

3. Q: Is there a Law library?

A: The book/paper items are all 5 to 6 years out of date.

4. Q: How’s the air conditioning?

A: Probably pretty good in the offices. In the cells it sucks. In the winter it’s frigid and in the summer it’s hot.

5. Q: Can I PRC out of WSPF?

A: Everyone wants out of this place! The problem is, not enough “fools” are volunteering and not enough beds in other joints are opening up. So to keep this place full, we get held back.

6. Q: How about jobs?

A: There are no utility workers and only one unit clerk.

7. Q: How are visits?

A: All visits are no contact – through glass, just like seg units in other joints. Why would family drive three hours to talk through a phone?

8. Q: How’s the recreation area?

A: Let’s call it what it is. Dog pens. Small cyclone fenced cages. I wont even go out there. I’m no dog.

9. Q: Satellite TV and radio?

A: No CW or MYTV-14. We must keep our antennas facing one way so we can’t pick up ethnic radio programs. Word is that the warden doesn’t want “Black” programming shown. I believe it.

10. Q: How’s the programming and education?

A: These people don’t care about helping a prisoner. I’ve written the warden twice, asking how WSPF will help me with my goals or how they will help me to re-enter and re-integrate. 2 months later, I’m still waiting for an answer. Other prisoners have written with the same questions and the warden hasn’t responded to them either.

I’ve personally asked every man on Charlie unit do they want to be at WSPF-GP and all 125 answered NO!! They would rather be at any other maximum institution.

If this place cannot function as a real general population institution, they need to go on and call it what it really is… a facility that enforces idleness, deprivation of all meaningful environment stimulation, little to no constructive activities and an environment that assures maximum control over us.

WSPF is a warehouse and needs to be shut down. It’s not a GP facility. It’s a waste of tax dollars. Only the prison staff and WIDOC benefit.

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Why the Drug War is a Crime Against Humanity Explained
By Carmen Yarrusso

09/08/08 Like the Iraq war and the “war on terror”, the so-called “drug war” is a government contrived “war” based on lies that generates massive profits for a few while causing massive suffering for many.

The drug war is futile by design (and thus never-ending) because it doesn’t “fight” drugs—quite the contrary—it strongly encourages production and distribution of prohibited drugs by guaranteeing extremely high profits.

But the most insidious and evil aspect of the drug war is it manufactures its own enemies by criminalizing the most basic of human rights—the right of sovereignty over your own body. The drug war could not exist without first inventing a bogus crime.

Our government wastes billions of tax dollars each year harassing and jailing millions of decent, productive Americans for a government-invented “crime”. The use of drugs (even dangerous drugs like alcohol and nicotine) simply doesn’t meet any reasonable definition of “crime”.

Real crime requires action that harms another. Real crime requires both a victim and a perpetrator. For example, robbery harms another and has both a victim and a perpetrator. Only a corrupt, depraved government could invent a crime you commit against yourself.

If you use certain drugs, our government claims you’re both a criminal and a victim at the same time. Since the perpetrator can’t be separated from the victim, the victim is further punished for the “crime”. This pathetic perversion of justice is vigorously championed by our government for selfish political reasons.

More than 50 government agencies share billions of your tax dollars each year “fighting” a government-created crime. Of the millions of illegal drug users, the vast majority use marijuana. If marijuana were legal like alcohol, these government agencies would suddenly lose billions of dollars because millions of former “criminals” would suddenly be granted sovereignty over their own bodies. The vast army amassed to fight the drug war would need to be dissolved at great cost.

That’s why our government strongly opposes even honest debate about marijuana legalization because this massive money-making scam would soon end.

Ingesting nicotine, alcohol, fatty foods, or certain drugs may be unwise. But why is it a crime? If a drug user or a non-drug user harms another they should be treated equally. But the bogus “crime” of drug use doesn’t require harming anyone. Nor does it require a victim and a perpetrator. It only requires a government-invented, bogus criminal/victim, a drug user.

By using lies and deception our government convinces gullible Americans that simply putting something into your own body is a serious crime. But evidence clearly shows that nearly all the harm associated with drug use is caused by creating the bogus crime, not from the actual drug use. There are millions of drug users, but relatively few are harmed by their drug use. These few should be patients, not criminals.

But it’s not just the millions arrested for drug use who suffer from this gross injustice. We gullible Americans have allowed our government to invent a bogus crime that causes massive misery worldwide while costing the taxpayers billions.

Consider the following list of easily avoidable human tragedies that are the direct result of a government-invented, bogus crime: A tax-free, unregulated, multi-billion-dollar drug industry necessarily run by violent criminals; a giant law enforcement bureaucracy wasting billions in a futile attempt to curtail this drug industry, which, in fact, guarantees its extreme profitability; a deteriorating public education system robbed of billions to support this law enforcement bureaucracy; courts and prisons over-flowing with non-violent “criminals” while murderers, rapists and real criminals go free; tens of thousands of children enduring the suffering and stigma of having one or both parents in jail for a bogus “crime”; the gradual erosion of our Constitution as more and more civil liberties are sacrificed to fight a crime “made in USA.”; rampant corruption of foreign governments (like Mexico and Columbia), so driven by US drug profits that life and human rights are secondary; thousands of adults and children infected and dying from HIV because distributing clean needles is a “crime”; violent street gangs with little incentive for education or legitimate jobs reaping huge drug profits made possible by a bogus crime; a growing death toll from police breaking down doors to catch people using substances less dangerous than tobacco, alcohol or fatty foods; a growing cynicism and disrespect for all laws and authority fueled by the knowledge our government can arbitrarily invent a bogus crime…
This sordid list goes on and on.

We’re appalled when Islamic regimes invent bogus crimes against reading certain books, or listening to certain music. Using certain drugs is our government’s version of the same thing. But the worldwide consequences of US drug prohibition are far more serious and severe. All of these “crimes” lack the moral basis of real crime. All are clear cases of a repressive government dictating the private personal behavior of its citizens.

If real crime is knowingly causing harm to others, then the real crime here is not drug use, but making drug use a “crime”. And the real criminals are not drug users, but ordinary people like us, who sit back and condone a ruthless scam that has been exported and exploited around the world leaving massive human suffering in its wake.

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page 9,

Wisconsin Prison Watch
P.O. Box 292
Boscobel, WI 53805

The United States spends about $57 billion annually on its prison and jail system. Over $500 billion on the military budget. Hundreds of billions on police and courts. How much on schools?

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WISCONSIN PRISON WATCH NEWSLETTER

SUBSCRIPTION FORM

Dear WPW,

Please subscribe me to your newsletter

Enclosed is a remittance in the required amount (cash, money order, postage stamps, check)

I am currently incarcerated in the state of __________________ ___ $5.00 per year

I am an “outside” friend, relation, or supporter of a prisoner ___ $15.00 per year

I work for the DOC, FBI, ATF, DEA, CIA, Milwaukee Police Dept. ___ $100.00 per year

Please also accept $_________ as a donation to be used in the struggle for justice.

Please send your newsletter to:

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Remit to: Wisconsin Prison Watch – P.O. Box 292 – Boscobel, WI 53805

Wisconsin Prison Watch – July 2008 Newsletter

Friends,

Finally, the bogus censorship of our newsletter has been exposed. Finally, a prisoner went all the way through the process and into Federal Court. Finally, claims of “Threat to Security” and “Item Contains Contraband” and “Item suggests behavior that would violate the law…,” have been given their proper response from the courts – Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. Judge Crabb said that the reasons Dan Westfield gave for censoring our newsletter were “not valid”, his response was “exaggerated”, and his “censorship is not logically connected to penological interests.”

Lorenzo Johnson sued the DOC Security Director Dan Westfield for his censoring of our March 2007 newsletter. Our May 2008 issue was at first denied but later delivered to all subscribers after the May 28th ruling by Judge Crabb. Trial for damages is scheduled for July 21 and Mr. Johnson is now represented by attorney Jeff Scott Olson.
To read the Court’s Opinion look up 07-cv-390-bbc.

We’ve received some comment from prisoners. SP at WSPF says, “we don’t need the newsletter to foster disrespect of staff; they do that themselves.”

One major “problem” Security Chief Westfield had with our newsletter (and he mentioned this to me over the phone once) is that the newsletter “offered no hope.” I can well understand, from Westfield’s perspective, how hope might play an integral part in keeping order in the institutions. The hope that Dan Westfield wants a prisoner to hang onto is that the institution will provide training and (re)programming and prepare him/her for release, that the institution will act fairly and listen to complaints, or provide adequate health care or give an honest evaluation at parole These are false hopes and, if accepted, lead to complacency (order in Westfield’s view) and inaction (security in institution speak). REAL hope and REAL solutions are not offered by the institutions, REAL hope comes with action taken on your own behalf for your own dignity and for the collective well being.

This brings me to PAM. Get your people involved. The group is growing and on the verge of becoming a serious movement. They are planning a demonstration at DOC headquarters this fall. They are strategizing on how to lobby our legislators in the next session. They are a legitimate focus for your hopes, REAL hopes, not false hopes. They can become a REAL counter balance to the DOCs arrogance of power.

Remember the “merry-go-round” article in the May newsletter? Well, Judge Richard O. Wright was convinced by Attorney Erik Johnson (case # 98-CF-14) that the Parole Commission is usurping judicial intent. He’s convinced that prisoner Drew is being kept longer than he intended when sentenced. The judge granted a sentence modification and in effect knocked eight years off of Drew’s sentence.

Judge Wright is convinced and any fair minded judge would agree, prisoners are being held longer than the sentencing judges intended. The claim of parole commissioners that a prisoner has not served enough time for punishment is completely bogus and exceeds the authority of the Commission. Who made them God?

We have documents that show how the Federal Government gave the State millions dollars as long as they kept “violent” criminals behind bars for longer periods of time. You can thank Bill Clinton for that mess. These Federal incentives to incarcerate and hold prisoners longer was set in place in the 1990’s. Graham and the current commissioners are not the designers of these plots but, they are chosen for the ideology they embrace – “tough on crime”.

The entire DOC is run by and filled with former cops, prosecutors, DAs and cop wanna-be’s. Penology, education, rehabilitation, training and preparation are foreign to their ideology. They believe in punishment as a solution to social ills, drug addiction and mental illness. The programs they administer are eye wash and halfhearted attempts at doing something they don’t want to do. Until the public becomes weary of spending money to warehouse “criminals” and the legislature feels the pressure, the DOC will never fill its mandated mission to protect the public.

How the “blue wall” closes ranks when one of it’s own is accused is clearly shown by our comrade Dujuan Walker in his piece titled “Legal Terrorism”. Dujuan has remained committed to the struggle – after release. He will never forget what he suffered behind those walls and he is determined to expose the rot. His voice is critical to our struggle. We need more released prisoners to join the fight.

If you fell for the hype and signed up to go to Supermax, don’t worry, in 2010 they say they’re going to start building outdoor recreation and a visiting center. You’ll still be stuck in a tiny cell with no storage, no real work opportunities, no classrooms and one step away from the dungeons, but hey, your folks can drive three hours from Milwaukee for a short visit; what more do you want?

We’re still struggling along for funding and we have enclosed a subscription form on the last page. We will accept cash, checks, postage stamps, income tax rebates, sincere promises, and portions of any awards won from litigating against the DOC. If you think it’s important that you have a voice reaching out to the public; a voice sending a message of truth and real hope, send us a little change. Now that our message is more likely to get through the censors; now that PAM is on the move, now is the time to step up.

Whether or not we answer every letter or print every submission, rest assured, we read every report from the dark side. Without your letters we can’t know what’s happening behind the concrete and razor wire. We are a conduit from you to the public, the legislature, the press and legal community. Keep the information coming. We will protect your identity if you ask us to.

in the struggle,
WPW

Federal Judge James Doyle: “I am persuaded that the institution of prison must end. In many respects it is as intolerable within the United States as was the institution of slavery, equally brutalizing to all involved, equally toxic to the social system, equally subversive to the brotherhood of man, even more costly by some standards, and probably less rational.”
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page 2,

Supermax: Psychiatrist alleges Dept. of Corrections retaliation
Narinder K. Saini says refusal to change inmate’s diagnosis cost him his job
Bill Lueders 5/22/08

A veteran state psychiatrist testified in court last year that he was asked to change the diagnosis of a state prison inmate and fired because he refused.

Narinder K. Saini, a state employee since 1990, dropped this bombshell in a Dodge County courtroom last July at the sentencing hearing of former Lodi resident Brian Locke. He stated that in mid-2004, he was asked by his boss, Dr. Kevin Kallas, to agree that Locke did not have a bipolar disorder, a serious mental illness, “so he could be sent successfully to Boscobel.”

At the time, Saini was in his 10th year of employment with the state Department of Corrections, then under a court order not to use the supermaximum security prison at Boscobel for patients with serious mental illness.

“[Kallas] asked me to change the diagnosis because they knew if I will not change the diagnosis, [Locke] cannot go to Supermax,” Saini testified. “I refused to do that.”

Saini knew Locke from previous contacts and felt he had been correctly diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He said Kallas was “not happy with my clinical diagnosis” and overruled him, sending Locke to Boscobel, but that another doctor who also knew Locke’s medical history ordered his return. Shortly thereafter, “I was terminated by the DOC…for mishandling the case, not cooperating with them.”

The DOC, Saini added, cut Locke off medications that had proved effective in the past. Why would it do this? he was asked. “Save money,” he replied.

Saini said he tried restoring these medications but “was not allowed to.”

The DOC wanted to send Locke to Boscobel because he had assaulted a guard, the incident for which he was being sentenced. At the hearing, Saini suggested the assault owed at least in part to Locke being taken off his medication.

Dodge County Judge Andrew Bissonette, in sentencing Locke to an additional five years in prison, noted that he had, prior to this incident, been “complaining to staff that he was being deprived of the meds he needed.” The judge called Saini’s testimony “kind of damning to the DOC,” adding that the agency “has a responsibility to provide care to all of its inmates so we don’t have incidents like this where staff are injured.”

DOC spokesman John Dipko calls Saini’s testimony “inaccurate on nearly every count. The Department of Corrections does not withhold necessary medication from inmates because of cost, and the department does not fabricate documentation to send inmates to [Boscobel].”

Brian Locke, now 50 and incarcerated at the Columbia Correctional Institution in Portage, could be a poster boy for the dangers of using prisons to deal with people with serious mental illness.

His attack on the guard after his medications were yanked was his first felony conviction. His prior convictions were all misdemeanors, although he did draw a multi-year sentence in 2002 on multiple misdemeanor counts.

In a letter to Isthmus, Locke says this incident — an attack on medical personnel transporting him to a hospital — owed to a mix-up involving medications: “I was still responsible for my actions, but not the intent.”

Locke later sued his Madison defense attorney, David Stokes, for malpractice; the case was dismissed last fall but is now being appealed. Armed with records he obtained through discovery, Locke has also alleged that Stokes defrauded the State Public Defender’s Office through overbilling. He initiated a John Doe proceeding against Stokes in Dane County court.

Sounds nuts, right? But this February, around the time when the Legislature nearly passed a bill to bar inmates from bringing such actions, Dane County Judge Sarah O’Brien found probable cause that Stokes repeatedly submitted “false and fraudulent” records. David Feiss, an assistant district attorney in Milwaukee County, has been named special prosecutor. He says no charges have yet been filed and Stokes is presumed innocent.

In 2000, inmates at the Boscobel prison filed a class-action lawsuit alleging that conditions there constituted cruel and unusual punishment. A settlement agreement reached in 2002 mandated some policy changes and prohibited the DOC from using the prison for mentally ill inmates.
Carlos Pabellon, an attorney with the office of Ed Garvey, which represented the inmates, came to suspect the DOC was “manipulating” diagnoses to sidestep this ban.

“What we discovered,” says Pabellon, “is that a number of these inmates had on one day an MH-2 classification” [meaning they could not be sent to Boscobel] and after the next visit an MH-1 classification [meaning they could be and were].” He believes the DOC was under pressure to “fill the empty beds at Boscobel, and, unfortunately, it appeared to us that they were doing it at the expense of the mental health of these inmates.”

Federal Judge Barbara Crabb tapped a Medical College psychiatrist to monitor whether seriously mentally ill inmates were going to Boscobel. This appointment ended earlier this month, as did the court order against using Boscobel for seriously mentally ill inmates.

DOC spokesman Dipko says “the screening process” that was developed in response to the lawsuit remains in place. But others say the Locke case underscores that the DOC cannot be trusted.

“They’re still putting mentally ill pris-oners into [Boscobel],” says Frank Van den Bosch, an inmate rights activist who lives near the prison. “They’re really not concerned with the prison-ers. They’re concerned about keeping the prison full. It makes a mockery of what the courts have decided.”

Dr. Kallas, in a recent interview with Wisconsin Public Radio, admitted he sometimes overrules diagnoses made by colleagues. But he claimed it is on the other end of the spectrum.

“While the psychologist may be technically correct in saying there’s not serious mental illness, I err on the side of caution and say, ‘Let’s not send this person,'” Kallas maintained. “I’ve just taken a more conservative stance and in many cases have decided that I don’t want certain inmates there even though they may technically under the court criteria qualify.”

The transcript of the July 2007 hearing was not completed until late October. In January of this year, Locke filed a complaint against Dr. Kallas with the state Department of Regulation and Licensing, arguing that he committed “medical malpractice” and violated Judge Crabb’s order. That complaint is pending. (cont. page 4)
Supermax Psychiatrist (cont.)

Locke has also asked the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals to intervene, saying, “It is time to put the DOC in check and punish them for this behavior.” This is also pending.

Dr. Saini himself briefly agitated against his termination. His Madison attorney, Richard Bolton, sent a letter dated Dec. 30, 2004, to Matthew Frank, then DOC secretary. It says Saini worked at the agency for 10 years “without serious criticism of his performance” and occasional commendations, only to be fired in August 2004, shortly after “failing to cooperate” with the DOC’s attempt to “manipulate” Locke’s diagnosis so he could be sent to Boscobel.

Saini, who is now working at the Mendota Mental Health Institute, declined opportunities to comment. Bolton says the DOC denied there was any connection between Saini’s termination and the Locke matter. Saini did not pursue legal action.

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Ruling Favors Michigan Inmates Serving Life

By DAVID EGGERT

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — The constitutional rights of more than 1,000 inmates serving life sentences in Michigan prisons have been violated ever since parole policies were toughened in the 1990s, a federal judge has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Marianne Battani said the cumulative effect of the parole changes violates the Constitution’s ban on laws being applied retroactively.

She released her decision this week but has yet to decide what her ruling means for 1,000 to 1,200 Michigan prisoners sentenced before 1992 to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

Since the early 1990s, the Michigan Parole Board has been less willing to release prisoners sentenced to life with the possibility of parole, adopting a “life means life” policy.

Some Michigan judges have said they never intended that some criminals remain in prison for life. Before the parole board stiffened its policy, those serving a life sentence with the possibility of parole could be released sooner than those give a fixed sentence such as 25 years.

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What Prison Really Is
by Malik Ellington
Partners from Prison
P.O. Box 900, Portage, WI 53901

Prison is a place where lives are cut short and hopes and dreams die. To glance into the future yields nothing but the negative. It’s a place that turns the young, the inexperienced and the weak into criminals, the criminals into better criminals and the better criminals into still better criminals A place where the law as it is written, becomes bent, twisted, and adulterated to suit the purposes of those in power to enforce it.

It’s a place that does not exist to the outside world for they cannot find it on a map, drive to it in a car, connect to it by telephone, or reach it by mail. A place where outgoing letters fall into a “black hole”, never to be heard from again. A place where you receive divorce papers and death notices and learn the true meaning of “till death do us part”.

It’s a place where the average working person, the poor, the under-privileged, and the unwanted serve years and years for minor crimes, while the rich, the politicians, the prison administrators, and the hired lackeys steal millions, seemingly with the blessing of the state.

For once inside these walls, you become dead to the outside world. It’s a place where parents and grand parents pass away, wives and girlfriends move on and your children begin to call someone else Daddy. A place where cousins, sisters, brothers, nieces, nephews, aunts and uncles all forget that you’re even part of the family. A place where you find out who your real friends are. A place where all the good things you’ve ever done are forgotten and the bad remembered.

It’s a place filled with thieves, whores, crackheads, drug dealers, snitches and other assorted crooks, some of which wear blue. A place that fosters anger, hate, racism, and hopelessness. A place politicians want more of.

It’s a place where men and women are warehoused like so many cattle. A place where positive actions and even positive thoughts are discouraged and rehabilitation is nonexistent. A place where you are sent away worse off than when you arrived, with a $25 check, a bus ticket and a suit of cheap state made clothes, with no hope and no future. And that folks is what prison really is.

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Transportation to the Prisons

Servicing Wisconsin State Prisons and Oxford Federal Prison.
Week day and weekend bus service, weather permitting.
Fees vary per institution.
Children $10.

For travel schedules, seat reservations and prices, call 414-687-9828
or write to:
Voices to the Prisons Inc.
P.O. Box 16587
Milwaukee, WI 56216

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We Wear the Mask
Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906)

WE wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile; With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.

We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!

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page 3,

Legal Terrorism
By Dujuan M. Walker

“If the definition of a terrorist is anyone who wishes to create terror in a specific category of victim, with the purpose of altering the behavior of the members of that category, does this mean that anyone who supports imprisonment and especially the death penalty as deterrents to crime is by definition a terrorist? Clearly the stated purpose is to terrify a specific group of people into changing their behavior. That’s what deterrence is. And given the rates at which Blacks, Latinos and American Indians, are imprisoned (and on death row) it could be argued that a good part of the judicial and penal systems in the United States constitutes a giant racist, terrorist organization. Simply looking at the numbers it becomes clear that the judicial and penal systems have achieved the segregation of black males- into prisons- on a scale of which the kkk and their puny brethren could only dream.” Derrick Jensen, Culture of Make Believe”, p.7 (2004).

We are all familiar with the language set forth in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal” and the guarantee of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” We are all familiar with the language set forth in the Thirteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which prohibits slavery EXCEPT as punishment for a crime. We are well acquainted with the dogmatic phrases of circuit court judges who have stated that, “It is in the best interest of society” to lock up millions of people of color for rather trivial crimes (such as several years imprisonment for extremely small amounts of crack cocaine) while they continue to let law enforcement officials walk away scot free after beating, maiming, sexually assaulting, and harassing people of color without legal justification.

If you have read the Mission Statement of the Wisconsin Department of Corrections then you know how lofty their ideas of “serving the public by rehabilitating prisoners” and “maintaining a safe and productive correctional environment” are. Wisconsin Administrative Code Ch. DOC s. 303.01(3) provides in pertinent part: “ The objectives of the following disciplinary rules under this chapter are the following:
(a) The maintenance of order in the correctional institutions.
(b) The maintenance of a safe setting in which inmates can participate in constructive programs.
(c) The rehabilitation of inmates through the development of their ability to live with others, within rules.
(d) Fairness in the treatment of inmates
(e) The development and maintenance of respect for the correctional system and for our system of government through fair treatment of inmates.
(f) Punishment of inmates for misbehavior.
(g) Deterrence of misbehavior.”

On October 15, 2007 I filed a writ of certiorari while I was a prisoner at Waupun “Correctional” Institution. In this writ of certiorari I alleged that the prison disciplinary hearing for conduct report #1911804 was held illegally, arbitrarily, and capriciously in a conspired attempt to cover up an illegal hate crime committed against me by a Correctional Officer there. In over 90 pages of documentation, including but not limited to, sworn declarations, affidavits, photographs, and hearing testimony I explained the numerous ways staff and administrators conspired to falsify documents and reports to cover up the fact that I had been jumped on by a Correctional Officer while I was handcuffed and shackled in retaliation against me for defending myself against the verbal attacks of two racist inmates. I explained how this CO wrote an obviously false conduct report to cover it up, charging me with battery and stating that I resisted him. Waupun Correctional even went so far as to use the Dodge County Sherriff’s Department and the District Attorney’s office to further cover it up, falsely charging me with battery and disorderly conduct based upon the bogus conduct report. (Charges were found to be void of probable cause, thus the malicious prosecution was ended on August 31, 2007).

Yet, my charges against the CO were found to carry probable cause, as Judge Bissonnette of Dodge County Circuit Court, Branch Three, found that there exists a reasonable probability that I was abused and he charged my attacker with a Class I felony pursuant to Wis Stats., s. 940.29. Immediately, the powers that be swung into action, gathering support from several republican assemblyman (such as Jeff Fitzgerald) and the State Employee’s Union, who all came out strong in defense of their own, despite the obvious evidence that still exists against him and cannot be covered up!, going to the media and calling for John Doe Reform, claiming that my situation shows an abuse of the statute… You know the drill. In sum, politics became involved- in its worst fashion- and the concepts of the Law took a back seat. Without even sending to me a letter or a copy of his motion, the “Special Prosecutor” (a defense attorney from Watertown) moved to dismiss the State’s case against the CO, claiming that he didn’t believe that he could prove the case beyond any reasonable doubt. I’ll let all of you people with intelligent and discerning minds ponder now: Why did the case against this CO really not get prosecuted and taken before a jury????? I’ll give you a head start: whatever the reason, I can guarantee that it’s not consistent with the Constitutions of this Country and State.

Now my writ of certiorari has been dismissed due to mootness since I am no longer incarcerated and according to the court the effects of the illegal disciplinary hearing can not cause me any further harm. But what about the harm that has already been done to me by the perpetrators, who seem to be immune due to their status as state employees, and my status as a formerly incarcerated African-American man? Is there any justice for me and my family or are we not protected by the Constitutions? Are we not human-beings? If we are animals then can we at least seek advocacy from some animal rights organizations? Had the CO beat a stray dog or cat because of its color and falsely stated that the dog “bit” him he would be locked up right now. But no, God forbid holding a white correctional officer and state employee responsible for beating a black prisoner (or in the words of Congressman Jeff Fitzgerald on Wisconsin Public Radio, “Dirtbags in a cage”).

So Mr. Derrick Jensen points out something very valuable to the understanding of this system. Do the powers that be really practice what they write, or do they practice what they preach when the public isn’t listening and paying attention? We know from history that the most powerful and corrupted nation sand empires have always operated under false doctrines which they really don’t believe in. These doctrines are eye-wash and propaganda designed to brain wash and confuse the masses – which in turn leads to dependency and eventually control. Moving surreptitiously, this system is misleading the public while stocking their prisons with victims, and secretly promoting terror while immunizing law enforcement agents for violating human and civil rights of defenseless, uneducated citizens. Mr. Jensen said it best when he stated:
“How exactly would you define a hate group? The obvious answer is slippery. For example, most people would agree that the Ku Klux Klan is a hate group, the granddaddy of American racist organizations. But literature from the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan states explicitly that the KKK ‘is not a hate group but we are a LOVE group. We are a love group because we LOVE our people.’ The literature continues, ‘We don’t want those who are only looking for an outlet for their hatred. Hatred never accomplishes anything. We feel terrible for those who have been victims of non-white crime and anti-white discrimination, but turning your life over to hatred isn’t the answer.’” So I ask you now, are we to judge this government by what they say, or what they do?

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Justice in Black and White
by Lisa Kaiser
Shepherd Express

Three recently released studies confirm what many Milwaukeeans already believe: The state’s justice system treats black and white drug offenders differently.

– The Sentencing Project found that the rate of arrests of white Milwaukeeans for drug offenses decreased 63% from 1980 to 2003. Yet the rate of arrests of black Milwaukeeans increased 206% during those same years. The authors found no corresponding increase of drug use among African Americans to explain the changes in arrest rates. Instead, they conclude that the policies of the national War on Drugs have disproportionately targeted African Americans.

– Human Rights Watch found that African Americans in Wisconsin are 42.4 times more likely than whites to be incarcerated for drug offenses—the most disparate ratio in the nation.

– Gov. Jim Doyle’s Commission on Reducing Racial Disparities in the Wisconsin Justice System noted that “African Americans comprise 6% of the overall population of Wisconsin, but also represent 45% of the population in the adult [Department of Corrections] facilities.”

The state commission’s report suggested that this didn’t happen by accident, nor does it serve to reduce drug use or crime levels. “Serious concerns were expressed that enforcement strategies that target particular neighborhoods or that target open-air drug trafficking are not productive in that many whose primary need is treatment end up confined in jail or prison and, unless having received treatment, are more likely to commit new crimes upon release,” it stated.

Gov. Doyle has called for all state agencies to track and analyze racial disparities in the justice system, and plans to assist the Office of Justice Assistance, law enforcement agencies and the Department of Corrections in their efforts to become more race-neutral.

Milwaukee Common Council President Willie Hines has asked for the newly formed Community Justice Council to look at the findings and prepare recommendations.
“The disparities raise concerns and eyebrows,” he said in an interview last week.

Hines said he’s not in favor of softer penalties for drug crimes, but wants to ensure that African Americans are being treated fairly. He added that the perception of unfairness throughout the criminal justice system affects residents’ interactions with police officers in their neighborhoods.

“If it’s the same offense, the courts should prosecute equally,” Hines said. “We need to examine the data and come up with tools, but we also need to hold individuals accountable and restore and protect the integrity of the court system.”

The Sentencing Project noted that the War on Drugs, initiated by President Richard Nixon and intensified during the Reagan administration, made the number of arrests and prosecutions for drug crimes a measure of success, and the money for local law enforcement flowed accordingly.

“It’s something that feeds on itself,” said Milwaukee defense attorney Alex Flynn. “Reagan created a drug czar and this tremendous bureaucracy and funding. But, cynically, it’s a self-sustaining system that needs people to prosecute.”

But the money isn’t being applied equally to all communities, nor is it being granted in large sums for drug treatment.

“If you’re a community with no drug arrests, you don’t get any money,” Flynn said.

The Sentencing Project reported that police presence tends to be higher in low-income African-American neighborhoods, and that drug sales in many African-American communities are more likely to occur in public spaces among strangers, making arrests easier. Conversely, white drug users—especially in the suburbs—are more likely to know their dealers and purchase or use their drugs in private, at work, in taverns or in athletic leagues.

Defense attorney Nick Kostich—who spent the early part of his career in the Milwaukee District Attorney’s Office—said that it’s simply easier for law enforcement to find low-level drug users and dealers when they’re out in public. He added that abuse of pharmaceuticals is growing, especially among white users, but these cases are difficult to identify and prosecute.

“I think there’s trafficking going on at a higher level, in so-called ‘good’ neighborhoods,” Kostich said. “But it’s sometimes more difficult to infiltrate these groups. You have to invest the time.”

Kostich noted that he felt that reforms implemented by District Attorney John Chisholm, who succeeded longtime DA Michael McCann in 2006, would help to reduce racial disparities in local drug cases. Chisholm is more likely to send low-level drug offenders to treatment before prosecuting them.

“Locally, in the past 12 months, I think we’re beginning to appreciate this disparity, particularly in state court,” Kostich said.

Federal court, however, is a different story. Both Kostich and Flynn said that issuing broad, multi-count indictments involving dozens of suspects in drug cases is a new strategy, and low-level, first-time offenders are getting swept up in them.

“The federal court system used to only prosecute high-level traffickers,” Kostich said. “But the scary part is that with these large indictments, your case can be combined with others even if it’s your first offense.”

Kostich said that federal judges are less likely to divert drug offenders into treatment and they are likely to give longer sentences to violations involving crack, which is more likely to be used by African Americans, than marijuana, powder cocaine or pharmaceuticals, which are more likely to be used by whites.

“I believe that the racial disparity is still there,” Kostich said.

Flynn cautioned against throwing the book at drug offenders, even if it may seem politically popular.

“We can’t look to the criminal code to solve all of our problems,” Flynn said.

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“The theory of the free press is not that the truth will be presented completely or perfectly in any one instance, but that the truth will emerge from free discussion”
– Walter Lippman

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US: Prison Numbers Hit New High
Human Rights Watch

Blacks Hardest Hit by Incarceration Policy

(Washington, DC, June 6, 2008) – New figures showing that US incarceration rates are climbing even higher, with racial minorities greatly over represented in prisons and jails, highlight the need to adopt alternative criminal justice policies, Human Rights Watch said today.
Statistics released today by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, a branch of the US Department of Justice, show that as of June 30, 2007, approximately 2.3 million persons were incarcerated in US prisons and jails, an all-time high. This represents an incarceration rate of 762 per 100,000 US residents, the highest such rate in the world. By contrast, the United Kingdom’s incarceration rate is 152 per 100,000 residents; the rate in Canada is 108; and in France it is 91.

“The new incarceration figures confirm the United States as the world’s leading jailer,” said David Fathi, US program director at Human Rights Watch. “Americans should ask why the US locks up so many more people than do Canada, Britain, and other democracies.”

The new statistics also show large racial disparities, with black males incarcerated at a per capita rate six times that of white males. Nearly 11 percent of all black men ages 30 to 34 were behind bars as of June 30, 2007.

In May 2008, Human Rights Watch released its report, “Targeting Blacks: Drug Law Enforcement and Race in the United States,” in which it documented racial disparities in US drug law enforcement, with black men 11.8 times more likely than white men to enter prison on drug charges, despite the fact that blacks and whites use illegal drugs at similar rates. Although whites, being more numerous, constitute the large majority of drug users, blacks constitute 54 percent of all persons entering state prisons with a new drug offense conviction.

“Decisions about drug law enforcement play a major role in creating the staggering racial disparities we see in US prisons,” said Fathi. “The ‘war on drugs’ has become a war on black Americans.”

The US has ratified the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD), a treaty that requires the US to guarantee, without distinction as to race, color, or national or ethnic origin, “[t]he right to equal treatment before the tribunals and all other organs administering justice.” In May 2008, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which monitors compliance with ICERD, expressed its “concern with regard to the persistent racial disparities in the criminal justice system of [the United States], including the disproportionate number of persons belonging to racial, ethnic and national minorities in the prison population.” The committee called on the United States to undertake “further studies to determine the nature and scope of the problem, and the implementation of national strategies or plans of action aimed at the elimination of structural racial discrimination.”

Human Rights Watch urges public officials in the United States to eliminate mandatory minimum sentences for all drug offenses and to adopt community-based sanctions and other alternatives to incarceration for low-level drug offenders. Human Rights Watch further calls on the United States to enact legislation that, in accordance with ICERD, prohibits policies or practices in the criminal justice system that have the purpose or effect of restricting the exercise and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms on the basis of race, color, descent, or national or ethnic origin.

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Death by Neglect

On the morning of May 19, 2008, Bradley Pitman passed away in his cell. Mr. Pitman was 27 years old.

Mr. Pitman failed to stand for 7 am count. CO xxxxx pounded on his bunk and said, “I’ll write you a conduct report for not standing count.” Health Services were not called even though Mr. Pitman had complained of not feeling well the night before.

At 10 am. a call came to the cell house that Pitman was not in school. CO xxxxxxx found Mr. Pitman dead in his bed. He had expired some time between 7 am and 10 am.

WPW has received six letters from concerned prisoners. We were able to locate Mr. Pitman’s family in NC. We forwarded the letters of concern and notified the press and attorneys here in Wisconsin.

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Support Hunger Striker

Every Sunday, Warren Lilly, a Wisconsin prisoner, who’s been hunger striking for more than four years, is allowed to forego nasal-gastro forced feeding. In what has been one of the most bizarre rulings ever to come out of a court, Judge Andrew Bissonnette of Dodge County Circuit Court (case no. 2007-cv-00392), ruled Warren could be force fed every day except Sunday.

Bissonnette wrote, “the Court would like Mr. Lilly and the prison staff to have a break, one day each week, from the habitual three times a day, seven days a week [365 days a year] forced feeding of Mr. Lilly. The Court will therefore provide a break for everyone on Sundays.”

The truth behind the ruling is Warren’s hunger strike is costing the Wisconsin DOC thousands of dollars a month in overtime and medical services. Unofficially, the cost of force feeding Warren tops $200,000 per year. Bissonnette’s ruling cut the DOC’s expenses by at least, one seventh. There was no altruism in Bissonnette’s unwarranted foray into the medical management of a hunger strike, his motivation was simple cost cutting.

Despite Bissonnette’s hypocrisy, Warren is taking advantage of this situation by asking prisoners and free persons to join him each Sunday in fasting, and after fasting, write or email Governor Doyle. A sample letter is on page 6.

Though Warren is imprisoned in Wisconsin, his hunger strike is aimed at reducing the prison population nation wide. He asks that you send him a copy of your letter or email written to the Governor. He’ll use them to convince the U.S. Congress of the strength of his movement, and the desire of Americans for prison population reduction and reform.

Send your letters of support to:

Warren G. Lilly, Jr.
DOC #447655
New Lisbon Correctional Institution
P.O. Box 4000
New Lisbon, WI 53590
email: wihungerstrike@tds.net

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“A people that wants to be free must arm itself with a free press.” – George Seldes

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Judge: Wisconsin inmates must be allowed to read newsletter
By RYAN J. FOLEY
Associated Press Writer

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Prison inmates have a First Amendment right to read commentary critical of their captors, a federal judge has ruled in a free speech case.

Wisconsin prison officials were wrong to stop inmates from receiving a newsletter that criticized their policies and the state parole board, U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb ruled.

The newsletter in question, “The New Abolitionist,” was produced by the Prisoners’ Action Coalition, a now-defunct group which advocated for prisoners rights. It contained news and commentary related to Wisconsin prisons and was once distributed to 1,100 inmates, publisher Frank Van den Bosch said.

The Wisconsin Department of Corrections blocked delivery of the March 2007 newsletter. Its security officials said the document contained some inflammatory material that would cause inmates to distrust prison guards and grow hopeless.

In particular, they claimed the newsletter contained inaccurate information about conditions at the prison formerly known as Supermax, unfair criticism of state parole policies and false characterizations of prison disciplinary procedures.

One of the inmates, Lorenzo Johnson of the Waupun Correctional Institution, filed a federal lawsuit claiming the action violated his First Amendment rights. He acted as his own lawyer.

Judge Crabb agreed with Johnson in a May 23 decision, ordering prison officials to immediately deliver him a copy of the publication. She ordered a trial on his request for $35,000 in compensatory and punitive damages.

Crabb said prison officials had no legitimate justification for stopping delivery of the publication, which she said followed a long and proud history of dissent in the U.S. Most of the statements to which the department objected were critical of the state’s treatment of prisoners, she said.

“Each of those statements is made in the context of asking prisoners’ friends and family to take nonviolent action to bring about change, such as writing letters, blogging, electing sympathetic politicians and attending rallies,” she wrote. “Defendants may prefer that such activities not take place, but they have no legitimate basis for preventing them.”

If prison officials blocked the newsletter out of security concerns, that was an overreaction, she wrote.

Van den Bosch said he changed the newsletter’s name to “Wisconsin Prison Watch” and continues to publish every two months. Prisons have routinely stopped his 300 inmate subscribers from receiving that newsletter, too, he said, including one distributed last month before Crabb’s ruling. He hopes that stance will now change.

“It does point out how the administration just can’t tolerate criticism,” he said. “All the newsletter presented was criticism of the DOC, and it was barred for that. All the excuses they gave were pretty much just laughed out of court.”

Corrections spokesman Alec Loftus said Johnson has been given a copy of the newsletter. The department will consider whether to appeal after the case is finished, he said.

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Fed. judge rules for state inmate in free speech case
Steven Elbow
June 4, 2008

A federal judge ordered state corrections officials to deliver a prisoner advocacy newsletter it had withheld from an inmate.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb said prison officials were denying Waupun Correctional Institution inmate Lorenzo Johnson of his First Amendment rights to free speech by keeping him from receiving The New Abolitionist newsletter, published by the Prisoners’ Action Coalition.

The group has recently disbanded and regrouped under the name Wisconsin Prison Watch.

Crabb called the corrections officials’ actions “simply censorship of a view that is critical of the Department of Corrections.”

“It really showed the DOC was not very friendly to criticism,” said Frank Vanden Bosch, a former Wisconsin inmate who publishes the newsletter. “They had no legitimate reason to block the newsletter.”

Johnson sued state Department of Corrections Secretary Rick Raemisch, Waupun Correctional Warden Mike Thurmer and Corrections Security Chief Dan Westfield after he didn’t receive an issue of the newsletter in March of 2007.

Prison officials later allowed some of the publications to be delivered to Johnson, but withheld others.

Corrections officials said they withheld the publication because it contained “inflammatory” passages and would “encourage disrespect” and “hopelessness.”

In her ruling, Crabb said, “Even if the defendants’ concerns were genuine, their justifications amount to nothing more than ‘because we said so,’ which is not enough to pass constitutional muster.”

She dismissed corrections officials’ concerns about ill effects of reading the newsletter.

“Although it contains many discussions of perceived unfairness, the recurring theme of the newsletter is one of empowerment, telling prisoners to work with their families and friends to make change,” she wrote.

Crabb said the court will address damages in the case at a future date.

editor’s note: The author of this piece made one mistake, Frank Van den Bosch is not a former inmate – he may be a future inmate but so far has eluded the clutches of the state.

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“Nothing is more despicable than respect based on fear”: Albert Camus

“It is when power is wedded to chronic fear that it becomes formidable”: Eric Hoffer

“You see what power is — holding someone else’s fear in your hand and showing it to them!”: Amy Tan

“No man survives when freedom fails, The best men rot in filthy jails, And those who cry ‘appease, appease’ Are hanged by those they tried to please.”: Hiram Mann

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STAY TUNED
OFF YOUR SEATS AND ON YOUR FEETS
PROTEST AT DOC HQ IN MADISON IS PLANNED FOR SEPTEMBER.
INTERESTED IN PLANNING AND ORGANIZING? COME TO THE JULY MEETING.

We are wondering how many people must die here in the Supermax?

“We are wondering how many people must die here in the Supermax before they find the source of this problem, these so-called ‘invesigations’ the department claims to have launched is like a dud firecracker. There will never be a ‘bang’ to solve this problem, not when you are investigating yourself.

We are wondering what happened with no investigation when the brother Lornell Evans died up here Oct. 2, 2005? We don’t even remember seeing an initial report in the newspaper from State Corrections Department John Dipko – is it because Mr. Evans is black and mr. Rundel is white? No, we are not playing the race card here, just laying out the evidence. We are all prisoners in my book, and every prisoner is my fellow brother of this ongoing struggle for peace & justice at the hand of the opprerssors. It could be because of liability, the way Mr. Lornell Evans died, and the way mr. Steven T. Rundel died.

After a major operation Mr. Evans was brought back here to the Supermax, when he should have stayed at the hospital where he could be watched by trained doctors & nurses, but here they just left him in a cell and after he (Mr. Evans) informed them that his stomach hurts and he could not eat, they never sent him back out to the hospital or no institution nurse at this facility came down to check him – the next day he was dead (R.I.P. Soljah).

Now since Mr. Steven T. Rundel died at his own hands, and was a convicted child molester, it is easier for the oppressors to drag his name through the mud, knowing the public will turn a blind eye to a child molester’s death. We can’t play into the oppressors’ hands, I’m on the inside and know better, we asked why have two people died here this year? Why wasn’t Mr. Evans sent back to the hospital? Why happened with the Jones-El and Johnson- v. Berge, et al. Class Action Agreement that all prisoners must be screened by a psychologist for any kind of mental illness before they are sent here to the Supermax – someone failed in this screening process.

Mr. Steven T. Rundel clearly had some kind of mental illness to take his life, he was not there a good month-and-a-half. John Dipko the Department spokesman said “the Department has launched an invetigation into how Rundel was able to construct a noose from his bedsheets and hanging himself without attracting notice of prison personnel.” Even a monkey will figure this out. Prison personnel don’t give a damn about prisoners’ well-being, and I’m in a room constructed the same way as Mr.Rundel’s and there’s no place in this room to hang yourself but on the bars on the door, and the crazy thing about it is that the bars play no purpose in supporting the door, they can cut the two bars off the door. This was an incident just waiting to happen – the doors on Alpha unit don’t have these bars on it, so why do these doors need them? This is monkey science. Take the bars off the doors, they don’t need them – their investigation will go nowhere.

We on the inside are callling for help. How many more must die, hear our voices, hear our cry comrades. The bars on the door are about five feet off the floor so Mr. Rundel had to kneel down with his feet still on the floor. Rounds: all staff are supposed to make their rounds on the range: white shirts, unit manager, nurses, social workers, and crisis workers. The white shirts, unit manager, nurses, social workers, and crisis workers might come on the unit and sign in at the sergeant cage, but no rounds on the ranges where the prisoners are at, unless it’s some kind of emergencyor a prisoner is getting suited up on. This will be the time you can catch them on the range – ‘some’ sergeants make rounds – not all – all frontlline officer will make rounds – and one psychologist, Dr. Hughes has for the last 30 days been making rounds once a week cell to cell asking prisoners if they are okay. No-one else is concerned. So this is how Mr. Rundel hung himself without attracting notice of prison personnel.”[January 1st, 2006)