Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice
Media advisory
For immediate release
Contact: David Liners at 414-736-2099 or wisdomwi@sbcglobal.net
www.prayforjusticeinwi.org

The 11x15 Campaign for Safer, Healthier Communities presents
Reducing the Prison Population: What works?

Featuring Ms. Nicole Porter of the Sentencing Project
Friday, August 17, 9:30-11:00 am
Room 411 South – State Capitol


The highly respected Sentencing Project of Washington D.C. is "dedicated to changing the way Americans think about crime and punishment."  Our guest speaker, Ms. Porter, is their coordinator of state legislative and public education campaigns.

Join us to:
  • Learn the various steps that other states (with support from both political parties) have taken in order to reduce their prison populations.
  • Discuss the ways Wisconsin might be able to adopt some of the best practices from around the country.
  • Envision a greatly reduced prison population in Wisconsin that makes us safer and healthier while saving taxpayer dollars.
All are welcome to this free event.

The Madison 11x15 campaign is organized by MOSES, the Madison affiliate of the WISDOM network of 125 Wisconsin congregations of all denominations.  The campaign is supported by the Wisconsin Council of Churches, Voices Beyond Bars, Prison Ministry Project, Interfaith Coalition for Worker Justice, Madison-area Urban Ministry, Nehemiah Community Development Corporation, and the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice.

Background

Wisconsin is one of the worst states for over-incarceration, especially of people of color.  Though only six percent of state residents are African-American, more than half of Wisconsin's prison population is African-American.

Our prison population per capita is more than double that of Minnesota's, even though the two states have similar demographics overall.  Wisconsin's corrections budget is also more than twice that of Minnesota's.  Yet the $1.3 billion that Wisconsin spent on its prison system in 2011 hasn't reduced crimes rates here, relative to Minnesota.

On the positive side, there are already many successful programs in Wisconsin that provide alternatives to incarceration.  These include drug treatment courts, day reporting centers and special programs for offenders with mental illness problems.  Unfortunately, these effective programs barely survive on minimal budgets and volunteered time from judges – even as the prison budget has grown from $200 million to $1.3 billion since 1990.  Simply investing more in alternatives to incarceration would save money overall while healing our communities.

The outrageous growth of the Wisconsin prison system happened under the leadership of both major political parties.  In other states, both Democrats and Republicans have led meaningful prison reform efforts.  People of faith and good will call on members of both political parties to recognize that over-incarceration is not a partisan issue; it is a matter of morality, common sense, fairness and fiscal responsibility.

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