By Middle Wisconsin Editorial Staff
“The simple message: “Do NOT pass a budget that includes funds to expand the prison system.”
• There are proven, safe ways to reduce the prison population. The Administration can take measures to fix the broken parole system that is keeping hundreds (perhaps thousands) of people in prison longer that the sentencing judge ever envisioned. The Administration can also increase efforts to provide alternatives to revocation for people on supervision who have not committed a new crime.
• The $5 million that Joint Finance wants to put into prison expansion should instead be put into Treatment Alternatives and Diversions, which can keep people OUT of our prisons and jails.
• The Department of Corrections has not said why it plans an increase in the inmate population in coming years. The proposal to Joint Finance was made with no prior discussion. Any proposal for prison expansion should at least be subject to public scrutiny.
We ALL need to step up and make our voices heard if we are going to stop the endless growth of our prison system and the insane rate of incarceration, especially of people of color and poor people.”
The message just quoted is from WISDOM, a network of faith-based community organizations in Wisconsin which includes more than 150 congregations of 19 different faith tradition. NAOMI is the local chapter in Wausau.
Here is a poem by a prisoner in a Wisconsin prison:
NO ONE CAN IMAGINE
No one can imagine this place.
Sit, stand, sit more.
Dead time with humans being warehoused.
Excommunicated by my Lutheran church, abandoned by all,
Yet God has shown me not alone.
Earning 19 cents hourly for mundane work, having not even the necessities,
Yet God remains with and for me.
With no out-date for a crime not even committed by me,
God sustains and gives me breath. God has shown me the justice denied me.
In the so-called legal justice system,
God is showing me the corruption.
I cry and no one cares.
I used to have a life, yet no one cares.
It’s sad people forget about forgiveness, loyalty, and fairness.
God loves and sustains.
By D.B. in WISDOM magazine