Demands from the #CLOSEmsdf Campaign Based on Newly Released Parole & Probation Report from Justice Lab at Columbia University: The Wisconsin Community Corrections Story

Demands from the #CLOSEmsdf Campaign Based on Newly Released

Parole & Probation Report from Justice Lab at Columbia University:

The Wisconsin Community Corrections Story

On January 22, 2019, the Justice Lab at Columbia University released a scathing report commissioned by #CLOSEmsdf Campaign partner JustLeadershipUSA, entitled The Wisconsin Community Corrections Story. This vital report adds quantitative and qualitative analysis to support what directly impacted people and low income and people of color, especially Black and Native American, have known for decades: there is deep harm, and racial and economic injustice embedded in Wisconsin’s probation and parole policies which exemplify and fuel incarceration.


In Wisconsin:

  1. 1-in-8 Black men, and 1-in-11 Native American men, are under supervision.
  2. Black women are supervised at 3 times the rate of white women.
  3. Native American women are supervised at 6 times the rate of white women.
  4. MSDF imprisons white people 12 percentage points lower, and Black people 24 percentage points higher, than the Wisconsin average.
  5. Wisconsin incarcerates Black people at 11.5 times the rate of white people, ranking Wisconsin’s imprisonment racial disparities fifth in the nation.
  6. Wisconsin’s post-prison supervision rates, average lengths of stay on post-prison supervision, and rates of incarceration for technical violations are much higher than the national average and set Wisconsin as an outlier in the Great Lakes region.
  7. Across the country and particularly in Wisconsin, mass supervision fuels mass incarceration. As of 2017, people who had previously been under community supervision made up over half of the total adult incarcerated population in Wisconsin.
  8. Over one-fifth of all adults incarcerated in Wisconsin prisons were incarcerated without a new conviction.
  9. This massive expansion of Wisconsin’s criminal legal system resulted from truth in sentencing laws that cost Wisconsin taxpayers $1.8 billion.
  10. All of this harm is the product of deliberate policy choices over the past three decades.


Independent of the Columbia University Report, the following are demands to Wisconsin’s elected officials, from communities directly impacted by parole and probation organizing with the #CLOSEmsdf campaign:

DEMAND 1: Stop incarcerating people for violations of supervision,

transfer “Alternative to Revocation” beds into the community,

and end probation and parole holds. Governor Evers must appoint agency directors who are committed to ending supervision-driven incarceration.

DEMAND 2: Depopulate and close the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility,

and demolish it so that it can never again be used to cage a human being. The Legislature must introduce legislation to defund and close MSDF and must support efforts to demolish the facility.

Demand 3: Repeal Truth in Sentencing, reduce probation and parole terms, cap the maximum length of those terms, drastically reduce the number of conditions of probation and parole supervision, and eliminate all supervision fees. In addition to repealing damaging laws, the Legislature must also pass laws that cap the maximum length of supervision, limit conditions to the least restrictive conditions necessary to help someone successfully complete their supervision, and eliminate all supervision fees.

Demand 4: Reinvest the money wasted on MSDF back into communities.

Wisconsin must reinvest the excessive corrections spending into workforce development training for formerly incarcerated people, into expanded mental health services that are easily accessible, and into community-based organizations like Project RETURN that connect formerly incarcerated people with jobs, housing, peer support, treatment programs and other needed services.


About #CLOSEmsdf

Led by WISDOM, EXPO (Ex-incarcerated People Organizing), IWOC (Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee), and JustLeadershipUSA, the campaign to close the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility(MSDF), #CLOSEmsdf, is a coalition of more than 40 organizations committed to ending crimeless revocation, closing MSDF, and reinvesting the money saved to build safer, stronger and healthier communities. MSDF is an irredeemable torture chamber. It represents how mass supervision fuels mass incarceration. It was built to warehouse people alleged to have violated rules of probation or parole – infractions like missing an appointment or being late for curfew. MSDF is taking lives and destroying communities. Individuals confined in MSDF are subjected to: Human rights violations; Unsafe and unsanitary living conditions; Overcrowding; Abuse; Lack of access to medical care.

To learn more about the campaign or to get involved,

visit or email

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