Black Men in Prison

This is a series on WuWM, called Project Milwaukee. The latest broadcast was titled Cutting WI’s High Black Male Incarceration Rate: Progress, But a Long Way to Go.

“It’s been one year since WUWM began an in-depth series on the state’s high rate of African American male incarceration.

Wisconsin leads the nation, by far.

WUWM is checking in with a few key players in the efforts to reduce the numbers. Republican state Rep. Rob Hutton of Brookfield says developments in Madison have been slow. But he’s hopeful change is on the way, including in the form of legislation that would provide treatment alternatives to prison, for non-violent offenders.”

Read and listen to the rest here.


Wisconsins’ prisons racial disparities must be fixed

Wisconsins’ prisons racial disparities must be fixed : Daily-cardinal

April 09, 2014
By Haleigh Amant

It may come as no surprise to many that the United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Even more unsurprising to some might be the racial disparities in our prison system (black men are more likely to be sent to prison than white men in this country).

But what did seem to shock many, including myself, was a study done by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee finding that Wisconsin has the highest incarceration rate of black males in the country, with 13 percent incarcerated. That is nearly double the country’s rate and can be summed up with just one major Wisconsin city: Milwaukee.

Read more:

Mother forms foundation for female inmates

From: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
June 17 2012

In the face of every female prisoner in Wisconsin, Alice Pauser sees her daughter: A woman who committed a crime, yes, but who nonetheless deserves love, compassion and the chance to make something of her life.

Pauser’s daughter, Genevieve, was just 19 when she was convicted of three felonies – including being party to the crime of first-degree intentional homicide – in 2002. Sentenced to life in prison, Genevieve will not be eligible for supervised release until 2025.

Instead of giving in to despair, Pauser channeled it into action. The result was The Demeter Foundation. Named for a Greek goddess who searched the underworld for her lost daughter, the foundation assists incarcerated and formerly incarcerated women in Wisconsin. For prisoners, the foundation advocates for humane treatment and civil rights. After release, the foundation provides workshops on education, job readiness and self-esteem.

Pauser, who works full-time at Access to Independence, a disability rights organization in Madison, runs the foundation before and after work and on weekends. It is supported entirely through donations.

Through the foundation, Pauser, 56, of Fitchburg, has helped dozens of women. She successfully lobbied for a state law that makes it illegal for prison guards to have sex with inmates. And she has forged a closer bond with her daughter than either of them ever thought possible.

Read the rest here.

The Demeter Foundation:

Mail: P.O. Box 259283, Madison, WI 53725
Phone: (608) 298-3563

Wisconsin lawmakers discuss proposal to cut number of prison meals to save the state money

Prisons cost money. Prisoners are human beings just like you and me. They need food in order to live. When are lawmakers and politicians going to stop abusing the human and basic constitutional rights of people in prisons by trying to deny them food? What good will it do the taxpayers who elect politicians, when more security is needed? When more medical bills need to be paid for because of the lack of nutrients and lack of food?

Why don´t politicians like Mark Radcliffe come up with laws for less long sentences? A reduction of people returning to prison like the revolving door phenomenon? Better education and more work for all are also badly needed.

Via The Real Cost of Prisons:

Wisconsin lawmakers discuss proposal to cut number of prison meals to save the state money

* STEPHANIE JONES The Journal Times, Racine
May 02, 2011

STURTEVANT, Wis. — Today’s prison menu includes oatmeal for breakfast, hamburgers for lunch and chicken a la king for dinner.

In the future, one of those meals could be taken off the menu, leaving a brunch and dinner.

State Rep. Mark Radcliffe, a Democrat from Black River Falls, has proposed a bill that would reduce the number of meals served at prisons and jails to save money. Rep. Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said it is an idea worth consideration for the state budget.

John Paquin, warden at the Racine Correctional Institution in Sturtevant, said he has not taken a position on it. But he is concerned it could bring about some security issues.

Inmates look forward to getting out of their cells for meals and other activities, he said. If the meal schedule is changed, Paquin said some of the approximately 1,500 inmates in the correctional institute in Sturtevant could get edgy or testy. They could also protest by not going to meals, he said.

“One thing inmates are always concerned about is the food,” Paquin said. “It’s not like they can go down to the local McDonald’s,” he said.

Radcliffe also did not return a call for comment on his bill. But Vos, who is co-chairman of the state’s Joint Finance Committee, said the proposal is worth reviewing if it saves the state money.

“I don’t think being in prison guarantees you three meals a day,” Vos said. “There are very few days I eat three meals a day, and I get along … But at the same time we want to make sure people are adequately taken care of.”

Tim Le Monds, a spokesman with the Department of Corrections, said he does not know how much it would save and the department has not analyzed the impact of the proposed change. But he said it’s his understanding that the proposal would not reduce the number of calories that are offered. Those calories are based on federal nutritional guidelines, he said.

Le Monds also said the state made a meal change last fall which saved money without cutting breakfast.

Instead of having different meals at all the state correctional sites, they created a standardized meal rotation schedule for all state correctional institutions. The change consolidated food ordering for approximately 30 different state facilities and saved money by ordering in bulk, Le Monds said. It started in fall, and Le Monds said it has already saved the state about $2 million.
Information from: The Journal Times,–Exchange-Reduced-Prison-Meals/

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s budget tightens early prison release

From: Green Bay Press Gazette:

Doyle program has affected 479 inmates for ‘limited’ savings

Gov. Scott Walker’s plan to rescind former Gov. Jim Doyle’s cost-saving sentencing reform measures will have little positive effect on the state budget or even on Walker’s wish to restore truth in sentencing, data from the state Department of Corrections shows.

Walker has proposed changing the funding for the prison system, taking it from a $1.3 billion budget for this year to $1.2 billion in 2012 and then back up to $1.27 billion in 2013.

In Walker’s recent budget address, the governor said his plan would restore truth in sentencing, state efforts begun in the late 1990s to more closely tie court sentences to actual time that inmates serve.
While he didn’t address whether costs would increase because inmates could be kept in prison longer, he said the intention is separating issues of early release from budget considerations.

To some observers, the repealing of Doyle’s early release initiatives seem contradictory to Walker’s cost-cutting strategies.

“There appears to be substantial cuts planned in the DOC budget, and at the same time, we’re expecting prisoners are going to stay locked up for longer periods,” Brown County Judge J.D. McKay said. “That costs money. I don’t completely understand the logic of the two; they seem to run counter to each other.”

In reality, Walker’s planned changes to Doyle’s early release measures will affect relatively few inmates.

Doyle’s plan, which started on Oct.1, 2009, was originally expected to save as much as $27 million over two years. Actual savings have been minimal because relatively few inmates have been released early under the program, prison data shows.

Out of a prison population of more than 22,000, only 479 inmates were released early since Oct. 1, 2009, according to prison spokesman Tim LeMonds. No specific figure of cost savings was available, LeMonds said, but “over the last few years, it was extremely minimal.”

The largest share — 362 inmates — were released under the sentence adjustment program, a program that will remain largely intact under Walker’s proposed changes, according to Tony Streveler, the prison system’s policy initiatives advisor.

Read the rest here.

Spokeswoman: Wis. National Guard preparing for possibility of guarding prisons if guards walk

By Associated Press (via Fox6)
Feb 22, 2011

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin National Guard spokeswoman says its members have been visiting prisons to prepare for securing them in the event that correctional officers walk off the job to protest Gov. Scott Walker.

Lt. Col. Jackie Guthrie said Tuesday that guard members visited the Redgranite Correctional Institution in central Wisconsin and others in recent weeks. She stressed that the visits were to update long-standing contingency plans for providing services during an emergency, and that Walker had not asked the guard to be on alert.

Guthrie noted that then-Acting Gov. Martin Schreiber activated 6,000 members of the guard in 1977 amid a work stoppage to guard prisoners and deliver other state services. She said that, based on history, “of course we’re going to be prepared should such a call come.”

See also the Badger Herald:
Labor leaders call reports of strike endorsement premature.National Guard official says Guard ready to take over in case strike indeed occurs

By David Brazy
Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tuesday’s reports that the South Central Federation of Labor was calling for a general strike may have been premature, according to a federation official.

SCFL Vice President David Mandehr said despite media rumors, the federation did not endorse a general strike at its monthly meeting on Monday night because its bylaws do not allow the members to do so.

“Basically we had a vote, and it’s just a motion to form a committee on how we could get information out to our constituents if a general strike is called,” Mandehr said.

Mandehr said if a general strike would be called, it would have to go through the AFL-CIO with the SCFL’s affiliate unions.

The SCFL is an umbrella organization representing 97 unions and 45,000 members in five Wisconsin counties, according to the SCFL website.

Some of the confusion may have come from a statement on the SCFL’s website which said the federation would endorse a strike if the bill is passed.

“The SCFL endorses a general strike, possibly for the day Walker signs his ‘budget repair bill,’” the statement said.

However, under the statement endorsing a general strike the website also said the SCFL did not call for a strike at the meeting because they did not have the authority.

The SCFL also passed a motion opposing all aspects of the budget repair bill at the meeting.

If the repair bill is passed, many workers are not planning on backing down. Union member Cheri Caff said they will continue to stand up to Walker’s plan.

“We need to go head to head with him until he backs off of our bargaining rights,” Carr said.

If the repair bill is passed and widespread strikes follow — including correctional officers — the Wisconsin National Guard is prepared to help support state prisons, according to Lt. Col. Jackie Guthrie.

Guthrie said the National Guard has visited state correction facilities this year. She added they do routine visits every year to be prepared in the event of any kind of emergency.

“We are always ready to ensure the safety of Wisconsin … we are also preparing for spring flooding and a flu pandemic but that doesn’t mean those things will happen,” Guthrie said.

Wisconsin’s prison population declines

From: Wisconsin Radio Network

by Andrew Beckett on December 23, 2010

in: Crime & Courts

It’s been getting a little less crowded in Wisconsin’s prisons. Department of Corrections Secretary Rick Raemisch says the number of inmates in state prisons was at about 22,000 at the end of fiscal year 2009, down nearly 1,800 over the past three years. The numbers reflect a three-percent drop in the population over the last five years.

Read the rest here.