New report shows Wisconsin Corrections Department failing

Posted by: Gordon on 7/9/2014

WISDOM released a report on the need for criminal justice reform at the state Capitol Wednesday that received wide news coverage including by the Associated Press and WKOW TV Madison 

Wednesday, leaders of affiliate WISDOM released a new report, Reform Now: A Call for Accountability in the Department of Corrections, that showed the Wisconsin DOC “has failed in its mission and goals.” Specifically the report highlights that:

  • Prisoners are being subjected to torture as defined under international standards
  • Gravely ill and aging inmates are not being released
  • Lack of accountability has botched the parole system
  • Decades of overcrowding put staff at risk and leave taxpayers footing bills of more than $1B per year
Among other failings, the report highlights the state’s lack of action on individuals eligible for parole. According to the report, the “Department of Corrections is denying a fair chance at freedom for more than 2,800 men and women in the Wisconsin state prison system who are legally eligible for parole. Incarcerating thousands of people unnecessarily costs taxpayers millions of dollars.”

Leaders made humane and economic arguments for reform now at the news conference. WISDOM leader Baron Walker, who is eligible for parole, has served 18 years for being an accessory to an armed robbery where no one was injured and is considered a model prisoner, coined an acronym in his fight for justice: H.O.P.E. — Honest Opportunity for Parole Eligibility.

They also noted that not paroling inmates costs the state of Wisconsin $96 million a year, a point United Methodist Minister Rev. Jerry Hancock made at a news conference Wednesday morning to release the report. “If that money were invested in treatment alternatives and diversion, it would save the state of Wisconsin almost $200 million a year,” Hancock said. 

Other groups supporting the call for reform now include Wisconsin NAACP State Conference of Branches, Wisconsin Council of Churches, and Wisconsin Faith Voices.

Download the report here, or go to the WISDOM 11x15 criminal justice reform website to learn more and get the latest updates.

You can also see some highlights of the news coverage here:

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