On Tuesday March 26th, CLOSEmsdf member organizations and allies will deliver a list of initiatives we expect Governor Evers’ office to act on to reduce and repair the Wisconsin Department of Corrections. We’re seeking more organizations to sign on to the letter and participate in the delivery action. Please contact Ben Turk, chair of the strategy and outreach committee at firstname.lastname@example.org if your organization wants to sign on. Find the full text of the letter here.
Why take this action?
We already gave a version of this document to the transition team back in January, it includes many things Evers promised to do on the campaign trail, but so far, we’ve been disappointed. For example:
- The Evers proposed budget would build new barracks at multiple facilities that increase the DOC’s capacity by at least 800 beds. There is a serious overcrowding crisis in the DOC, but the faster and more just response to this crisis is releasing the many parole, compassionate release and pardon eligible prisoners, and changing revocation policies to reduce population. These changes take less time and are more just than expanding facilities.
- The proposed budget also raises wages for correctional officers. Again, this is the wrong response to the DOC’s present crisis. Correctional officer families experience higher than average levels of domestic violence, stress related ailments and suicide. These are toxic jobs, and taxpayer money should not be used to lure more people into them. Evers and Barnes ran on reducing the prison population, and that’s the right solution to staff shortages.
- This budget also proposes $8.1 million dollars for ventilation repairs to Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF). We will shut down this dungeon, Everstold us he would help us to see it closed as quickly as possible. Re-aligning DOC revocation policy as advised by the recent Columbia Justice Lab study would effectively make MSDF obsolete and closable by the end of this year. Investing millions of dollars over years of repairs in this facility he promised to close is wrong.
- Last week’s decision to bypass community input and select the Teutonia and Mill Road location for the new type 1 juvenile facility showed a lack of respect for the people who put him in office. We understand that the Governor needs to close Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake as soon as possible, but they must involve the people in their decision-making if these replacements will include the improvements that our kids deserve.
Will you sign on?
Its time to let Governor Evers know what we expect from his administration. The changes included in this document are all things he can do by executive order, without approval or support from the gerrymandered legislature, and they are vital to getting Wisconsin off its current trajectory toward the bottom of so many indicators of inequity and racial disparity.