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Another $1.5 Million for Treatment Alternatives!

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The state legislature recently approved a $1.5 million annual increase to the TAD (Treatment Alternatives and Diversions) fund. This amount builds on the $1.5 million increase that was approved in the summer of 2013. In the past year, funding for treatment alternatives has gone from $1 million per year to $4 million per year. Based on the past performance of TAD programs, we can conservatively estimate that the $3 million/year increase will result in:

“Voices From Inside: Wisconsin Prisoners Speak Out”

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Cover of Voices from Inside“Voices From Inside: Wisconsin Prisoners Speak Out” is now available. The book contains excerpts from some of the hundreds of letters WISDOM has received from inmates since the start of the 11×15 campaign. The letters touch upon a variety of themes, and each of them reminds us that prisoners are human beings with hopes, dreams, regrets and questions. The letters are accompanied by reflections from judges, bishops, pastors and others, as well as important facts about the criminal justice system.

Books can be obtained from any local WISDOM group or from the WISDOM office—3195 S. Superior St., #310, Milwaukee, WI 53207. A $5 donation per book is suggested.

CJCC Endorses TAD

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Office of Justice Assistance LogoActing in early May, the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council of Wisconsin (CJCC) passed a resolution supporting the expansion of Treatment Alternatives and Diversion (TAD) programs as good policy and a good investment. It was the first policy recommendation the 20-member council has made since Gov. Walker created it in 2012. Expansion of TAD programs is a key goal of the 11X15 Campaign being promoted by ESTHER and other WISDOM affiliates.

Wisconsin leads nation in black male incarceration rates

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Shocking facts released in new study on Wisconsin's mass incarceration

 

Wisconsin has the highest black male incarceration rate in the United States, according to the 2010 decennial census. The rate (1 out of 8 African American men ages 18-64 were in state prisons and local jails in April 2010) is nearly double that of the nation as a whole and 32% higher than the next worst state (Oklahoma). The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Employment and Training Institute released a new study on Wisconsin’s Mass Incarceration of African American Males: Workforce Challenges for 2013.

The prison population in Wisconsin has more than tripled since 1990, fueled by increased government funding for drug enforcement (rather than treatment) and prison construction, three-strike rules, mandatory minimum sentence laws, truth-in-sentencing replacing judicial discretion in setting punishments, concentrated policing in minority communities, and state incarceration for minor probation and supervision violations.  Particularly impacted were African American males, with the 2010 U.S. Census showing Wisconsin having the highest black male incarceration rate in the nation. In Milwaukee County over half of African American men in their 30s have served time in state prison.

 

Link to one page executive summary

Link to full report

 

Inspiration Marks Madison Action Day 2013

Madison Action Day Podium on Capitol StapeMore than 900 People of Faith United for Justice from all around Wisconsin – including 80 from the ESTHER – traveled to Madison on March 14 to bear witness to the importance of social justice and to ask our legislators to support 1) funding for treatment instead of prison (11x15); 2) public transit; and 3) accepting federal funds to expand Medicare.

League of Women Voters Endorses Treatment Alternatives

The Wisconsin League of Women Voters has endorsed a central aim of WISDOM’s 11X15 campaign—increased use of alternatives to incarceration for non-violent offenders. In a memo sent to LWV leaders state-wide on March 8, Executive Director Andrea Kaminski asks League members to contact their state Senators and Assembly Representatives to urge expansion of Treatment Alternatives and Diversion funding, instead of increased funding for jails and prisons.

Focusing on Our State Budget

Figure depicting state budget areaOur state legislature will soon take up the budget for the next biennium. The budget is where the rubber meets the road. Without funding to support programs, all we have is talk. Currently, ESTHER is focusing on securing adequate funding in two areas. Will you join us in advocating in support of these budget priorities?

Public Transit

Transit is important in our community to get people to jobs, medical appointments, school, shopping, community events, and more. The Wisconsin Transportation Finance and Policy Commission has recommended investing an additional $36.3 million annually over ten years to strengthen public transit in our state [click to read the report]. We support this recommendation.

We also call for restoration of transit funds cut from the state budget during the 2010-11 biennium. Restoring this 10% cut would bring the state's public transportation budget back to the 2009-10 level. Without the restoration, communities in the Fox Valley and throughout the state will begin feeling the effects in July of this year.

Prison Reform

Treatment Alternative Diversion (TAD) programs have proven their value and their cost-effectiveness in Wisconsin and around the country. Following the recommendation of the recent Health Impact Assessment (read more at prayforjusticeinwi.org), we are calling for $75 million to be appropriated for these programs.

Results of the Health Impact Assessment indicate that such an investment would reduce costs, reduce crime, increase recovery from addictions and mental illness, strengthen families, and improve economic opportunity. Prison is about four times more costly than TAD programs such as alcohol, drug, and mental health treatment courts.

Join us at Madison Action Day [click to learn more] on March 14 to help show your support for these prioritries.

JOIN US! March 14th People of Faith, Madison Action Day

ESTHER members marching to the Capitol in MadisonPeople of Faith United for Justice is a day-long gathering to learn, discuss, pray and take action on justice issues such as prison reform, public transit, affordable housing, transitional jobs, and more. We gather at Bethel Lutheran Church in Madison for plenary sessions and lunch, followed by a march to the capitol and meetings with legislators.

Treatment Alternatives and Diversion Funding, the focus for 11x15, is one of the issues this day. Funding for transportation is another.

Read more, and then register to join us! click to register online | click to download registration flyer

Becky Young Community Justice Summit

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Join the Summit: Informational Strategy Session on Wisconsin's Judicial & Correctional Policies

 

When: Tuesday, September 1st

Time: Presentation Workshops 1:00-5:00pm; Award Dinner 5:00-7:00pm

Location: First United Methodist Church, Madison (203 Wisconsin Avenue)

Join us in a discussion and action on State and County judicial and correctional policies.  Three panel discussions followed by workshops in the area of proposed legislation for OWI offences, effective use of $10 Million Becky Young Community Justice Fund, and adequate funding and programming for Treatment Alternatives and Diversion (TAD).  

Guest Presenters:

Senator Lena Taylor
Representative Gordon Hintz
Walter Dickey, Dean Law School
Jerry Hancock, Prison Ministry
Wendel Hruska, Project Return
Mike Olig, Safe Streets Program
Marilyn Walczak, Justice 2000
Brenda Wesley, NAMI Milwaukee
Conor Williams, MICAH

Dinner and award reception including the Madison Church Choral Group will follow.  Register in advance, call the WISDOM Office at 414-831-2070 or email wisdomwi@sbcglobal.net.  Registration cost $15 for meal and materials.  Scholarship available.

Sponsored by Wisconsin Organizations in Support of Treatment Instead of Prison.

For additional information, contact Joe Ellwanger: 414-736-2480.

Click here to view event flyer.

 

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