Wednesday, June 22, 2016

INCREASED VIOLENCE in MiLWAUKEE SHOWS TREATMENT NEED

LETTERS TO LEGISLATORS, MEDIA, DOC NEEDED

There has been alot of media coverage of the increased violence in Milwaukee and the latest is to blame newly release prisoners and the response seems to be more monitoring and increased penalties.

NO! there must be an immediate police response but increased prison time will not alleviate the suffering and thee needs to be deeper thought. There is no treatment and very little programming for prisoners that began there incarceration after Truth in sentencing was enacted. By law they have an "out" date an it matters not to the DOC in what shape they are released. Here is  a letter I received from a 23 year old going to be out in a few months:


“I have received not one single drop of help which is really sad because I’ve got a big drug addiction and with the releasing me into a TLP ( temporary shelter) ,well, It’s going to be filled with drug- I know from prior experience. SO with me having no knowledge of how to control my addiction and the setting me out into a world where I’m going to be surrounded is bad- like they set me up for failure.”

 I get a lot of letters like this, begging me for help. Why is there no treatment and very little programming for These kids? The major reason is  all the funding is going for health care for the elderly OLD  LAW Prisoners( 60 to 100 thou a year paid by taxpayers). prisoners who have been stuck in prison decades after they were eligible for parole. They are stuck and are costing your millions each year because there is no medicare,SS or medicare for prisoner . We ask you to write letters to the media, your legislators , the parole board and DOC chairman and demand that focus be put on getting treatment and programming back in the system and funding for that can be had by  reinstating real parole for OLD law prisoners . 
                       
We need to help the government connect the DOTS!! Make the DOC stop the waste of lives and money and fulfill its rehabilitative mission!!!! Present policies are  making us less safe.





Violence in Milwaukee/a prisoner advocate’s view
      I just heard a short radio report on violence uptick in Milwaukee. It finished with the city’s proposed response- because more them half of the shootings are by parolees and those on supervision, that group will be more closely monitored in order to stop the violence before it occurs.
      I have been working with prisoners and their families as part of a nonprofit for over 15 years. What I see in Milwaukee is an ironic situation. I will sum it up and then explain. The WIDOC (Wisconsin Department of Corrections) has lost its rehabilitative mission and is merely warehousing prisoners.  The prisoners who committed their crimes after TIS, or “TRUTH in sentencing” was enacted get little treating or treatment- they are released to the streets usually less ready to be good citizens than they were at arrest.
      “But I hear that the WI Taxpayers pay more for prisons that for the whole university system for the first time in history? Where does the money go?”
       Indeed. Much of the money goes to pay for health care for the second group of prisoners: What is now called ”OLD LAW PRISONERS” . These are the over 2500 prisoners  who were sentenced before 2000 when the prison boom and TIS began. They are eligible for release and most are ready to be good citizens. Before Truth in sentencing,  the parole system worked well and between 3000 and 4000 prisoners were released annually, we had only 7000 thousand prisoners, schools were supported and a semester of college tuition ( when I went) cost 300 dollars. Within the prison there were lots of programs, Pell grants paid for college and everybody got treatment. When TIS came in with the Federal CRIME bill billions, all that stopped and we got more prisons and now have 22 thousand prisoners  and the expense of holding  them is entirely yours, including  medical expenses . These expenses are breaking the DOC , state and taxpayers budgets .
       
 Back to violence in Milwaukee :
                   1) Biggest reason: few positive roll models for young boys: their fathers are in prison, the major roll model is the drug dealer on the corner.  Many of the old law prisoners want nothing more than to be returned to their families where they can help heal the community. There is no more powerful voice for these young Milwaukee kids than a ex -prisoner dedicated to real justice and community well being.                                                                                       
                  2) Another huge reason for the violence: no funds for treatment in prison. Because the cost of old law prisoners’ health care as they grow older takes so much of the DOC budget, there is little programming for TIS kids and virtually no mental health treatment. The best way to illustrate this is a I received from TIS inmates soon to be release, completely unready. Here is a typical letter asking me for “Any help”. This prisoner is 23 years old, A TIS prisoner.
“I have received not one single drop of help which is really sad because I’ve got a big drug addiction and with the releasing me into a TLP ( temporary shelter) ,well, It’s going to be filled with drug- I know from prior experience. SO with me having no knowledge of how to control my addiction and the setting me out into a world where I’m going to be surrounded is bad- like they set me up for failure.”

There are two actions needed here:
1) Unstick parole for the over 2500 rehabilitated OLD LAW Prisoners  and insist that much of the saved millions be used for installation of the ready to be built mental health treatment units and rehabilitation programs that have been proven to work.  All OLD LAW prisoners have been incarcerated for at least 15 years and many for many decades , are older when few crimes are committed and they have in the main received intense rehabilitation . The system used to work and rehabilitated prisoners got a viable second chance. These men and women will help rebuild Milwaukee. Right now we are only releasing the kids who have got no tools.  The system can work again, making us safer- right now it ensures violence and inexcusable expense.

2) Insist that the DOC enact real intensive programming for the TIS prisoners and that the legislature puts money into community solutions to crime. Prison cannot be the only solution to our problems . We need to MAKE THE LAW DO RIGHT!

Peg Swan, member FFUP (Forum for Understanding Prisons)
Websites: main: www.prionforum.org
                  Parole campaign: www.secondchancewi.org
Pgswan3@aol.com, 29631 Wild Rose Drive, Blue River,  WI 53518,608-536-3993

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