Friday, February 6, 2015

Ramiah Whiteside- a striking example of the cruelty old vs new" law sentencing

Gina Barton , Corrections reporter for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, did an investigative report comparing Ramiah's Whiteside's lengthy time in prison with the short sentence of his Truth-in -Sentencing Roommate. Both committed generally the same crime. She exposes what is happening to many prisoners sentenced before 2000. Although judges gave lengthy sentences before truth -in -sentencing, they fully expected them to be release after serving one fourth the sentence if they behaved well, which was the law at the time. And here Ramiah still sits after 20 years!

read in PDF format and it is pasted below or

click here for link to MJS online article

At left, Ramiah Whiteside stands on the grounds of the Fox Lake Correctional Institution. After 19 years, he still doesn't know when he'll get out. At right, Shane Urness speaks about drunken driving to a high school in Cornell, Wis. Urness, whose offense was similar to Whiteside's, served five years in prison and was released five years ago.

By Gina Barton of the Journal Sentinel

Nov. 29, 2014                            

When Ramiah Whiteside saw the flashing red and blue lights in his rearview mirror, he drove faster.

He was behind the wheel of a stolen Cadillac. He was on probation. At 19, he already had a lengthy arrest record and had served prison time for selling marijuana.
Careening out of control, the car plowed through a Milwaukee County bus stop shelter, killing a teenage girl and two men waiting there. Then it crashed into a building and exploded in flames. Police pulled Whiteside from the vehicle, but his 15-year-old cousin was trapped inside and burned to death.
That was almost 20 years ago.
At a 1995 hearing, Milwaukee County Circuit Judge David Hansher sentenced Whiteside to 47 years — the maximum — and said he would order more time if he could. For years afterward, Hansher told Whiteside's story to other young defendants, using it as a cautionary tale of what can happen when a joy ride goes bad.
Nine years later, Shane Urness sped down a curving road in western Wisconsin's Buffalo County. Headed home from an alcohol-fueled party with his best friend at 3 a.m., Urness tried to go around a slower vehicle in a no-passing zone and smashed head-on into an oncoming car. His friend, just 22, was killed. So were two men in the other car. Two others were seriously injured.
At 20, Urness had never been in jail, never been in trouble. He sobbed as Buffalo County Circuit Judge Dane Morey — calling it the most difficult sentencing of his career — handed down a prison term of five years, far less than the maximum of 87 1/2.
Whiteside and Urness shared a prison cell for more than six months. Theirs is a story of redemption, both behind bars and on the outside. It is also a story that reveals how Wisconsin's truth-in-sentencing law doesn't necessarily mean more prison time for a similar crime — but in the state with the highest rate of African-American incarceration in the country, being black just might.
Urness, who is white, was sentenced in 2005 under truth in sentencing, which took effect in 1999. As a result, he had to serve every day ordered by the judge. As he left the courtroom for prison, he knew the exact date he would be set free.
Whiteside, who is black, was sentenced under the old parole system. Prisoners like him become eligible for parole after serving 25% of their sentences. In most cases, they must be paroled after serving two-thirds of their time.
That means Whiteside could have been set free after about 12 years, and will likely have to be released after about 31. He has served nearly 20 so far. His is a sentence of uncertainty, of never knowing when he will get out of prison and no specific standards he can meet on his own to make it happen.
Whiteside is among some 2,700 people incarcerated in Wisconsin whose sentences allow for parole, but who remain in custody. All of them were sentenced before truth in sentencing took effect.
Like Whiteside, 45% are black, compared with 6.5% of the state's population and 43% of all male inmates. Like Whiteside, more than half committed their crimes in their teens or 20s. The cost of keeping them locked up is about $100 million a year, paid by state taxpayers.
Parole grants have decreased dramatically in recent years — from 1,146 in 2005 to 152 in 2013.
Inmate mentor
Urness was a recent arrival to New Lisbon Correctional Center when he met Whiteside nine years ago. Urness had no idea what to expect from prison or how to survive there. What's more, he had broken both arms, both legs and his neck in the crash. His muscles were still weak, and he walked with a limp.
Whiteside, by then, had spent some of his time behind bars studying to be a personal trainer. In the prison gym, he devised exercise programs to help inmates deal with conditions such as diabetes and obesity. Urness started working out with him. Once they got to talking and realized they were coping with the same guilt and loss, had the same need to atone for starkly similar crimes, they slowly forged a friendship.
"He was a lot of help," Urness said. "He was somebody to talk to, whether it was about family or because of the issues I was going through. ...Over time, I realized he was somebody I could trust. The more I got to know him, the more I realized he actually was somebody trying to better himself."
Whiteside pushed Urness to participate in the Hope Program, in which two or three inmates spent time with small groups of troubled kids, aiming to lower their odds of future incarceration by listening to their problems and sharing life experiences.
"In my heart, I know Whiteside is a good person," Urness said. "I know he would be a contributing factor to society, getting a job, working with troubled teens or even troubled adults. Whatever he chooses to do, Whiteside would put it 100% forward."
Today, Urness has been home for five years. He's married with a child. Working. He's got five years left on supervision. His sentence calls for him to do at least three speeches a year about the dangers of drinking and driving, but he does more, sometimes 15, sometimes 20 — largely inspired by his participation in the Hope Program, which has since been discontinued.
He will always, he says, do more. He has a deep need to help other young people avoid the pain he caused.
"I hope it helps somebody," Urness said of his presentations. "It's the best way I know how to say I'm sorry to everybody I hurt, to better myself and better the people around me."
Urness isn't the only one who believes Whiteside has a similar capacity for good.
Hansher, the judge who sentenced Whiteside to nearly 50 years behind bars and wished he could have ordered more, now sees him as proof that people can change.
"We exchanged letters, and I was just impressed," Hansher told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "If rehabilitation is the goal of prison, he's been rehabilitated, and we're warehousing him at the moment."
But Hansher's letters in support of Whiteside's release on parole were of no help. In fact, they had the opposite effect.
When Whiteside's girlfriend sent a copy of one of the letters to the parole board, Commissioner William Francis promptly filed a complaint with prison officials, accusing Whiteside of forgery. He was sent to solitary confinement for three days while the allegations were investigated.
Whiteside said his June parole hearing with Francis was perhaps the worst moment of his two-decade incarceration.
"Even with the support letters I had, it made absolutely no difference," Whiteside said in a phone interview after his release from solitary. "He asked me what happened at sentencing. He went back and said since Judge Hansher made those comments on the record way back then — and whether these letters were legitimate or not — he was going to go by what was said at sentencing."
A recording of the meeting obtained by the Journal Sentinel confirmed Whiteside's statements.
Francis could not be reached.
Department of Corrections spokeswoman Joy Staab, who also is responsible for the parole board's media relations, said the temporary change in Whiteside's prison housing was "a non-punitive status" and that Whiteside was released from segregation "once the documents were authenticated."
Like the parole commissioners before him, Francis gave Whiteside no indication of when he might be released on parole and no road map of what he could do to help his chances. Francis simply decided Whiteside's request for release would be considered again in a year.
Parole Commissioner Steven Landreman has said commissioners rarely decide to release someone on the spot, and they never set a specific future date for release.
His statements came during a Feb. 19 meeting between officials from the parole board and the Corrections Department and a group of faith leaders and activists known as WISDOM, an audio recording of which was obtained by the Journal Sentinel.
"I can't just come into a hearing and tell an inmate, 'Well, you've got two more years to do. We'll let you out in two years.' That's not how it works," Landreman said at the meeting. "There's a lot of factors in considering how much time an individual needs to do based on all of the factors with that inmate and his situation."
Another roadblock Whiteside faces is that he must complete a substance abuse treatment program before he can be released. But an internal program review committee at each prison decides which inmates to enroll in counseling.
The number of inmates who need treatment far outweighs the number of spots available, and truth-in-sentencing inmates almost always get priority. As a result, parole-eligible inmates such as Whiteside are constantly shifted to the back of the line.
"I don't know how many different ways they can say, 'Not now, but we're not going to tell you when,'" Whiteside said. "You think you're making some inroads, doing better, getting closer, and then they basically pull the rug out from under you."
Urness, during his five years in custody, saw Whiteside and other inmates sentenced under the old law return from their parole hearings with the same sense of hopelessness.
"I'd see grown guys coming back bawling," he said. "It's a huge mind game. Truth in sentencing sucks, because you didn't have a chance to get out early, but you knew when the day came, you're done. You're out the door. With these guys under parole, they don't know."
Not discouraged
Whiteside, now 39 and already nicknamed "Old School," said he refuses to remain discouraged for long. He, too, has a deep need to help other young men avoid the pain he caused. If he can't do it back home in Milwaukee, he'll do what he can for guys like Urness who join him behind bars.
"I have a legacy, or a ripple effect, from what I did, and I can't change that," Whiteside said. "It makes me want to do everything I can to say, 'I'm not the person who is selfish anymore.' I don't have that chip on my shoulder or that attitude. That guy grew up. This guy realizes my choices impact people I don't even know."
Whiteside, who had some behavior problems in prison early on, credits the 22 months he spent in the Cognitive Group Intervention Program with helping him change his thinking. The program's goal is to teach inmates how to make better choices and to empathize with their victims.
After finishing his session, Whiteside helped start a program in which participating inmates could continue to support each other.
In 2007, Whiteside became eligible for parole.
A year later, an evaluator from Manitoba House, a community-based residential treatment facility, offered him a bed, saying he was "unlikely to reoffend if monitored and treated in an intensive fashion."
"The offense of which Mr. Whiteside was convicted is directly linked to his addiction," the report says. "This serious misconduct certainly demands punishment, but also calls for a disposition that recognizes Mr. Whiteside's positive growth and redirection since the offense occurred."
Research shows the likelihood of committing a violent crime decreases dramatically after people reach their mid-20s. More than 99% of the men awaiting parole in Wisconsin are 30 or older.
Whiteside was 33 when the Manitoba House evaluation was done. By then, in addition to completing the cognitive intervention program, he had earned a high school equivalency degree and 30 college credits as well as completing programs in anger management and domestic violence prevention, among others.
"It would seem that Mr. Whiteside has finally reached an age and maturity level at which he is able to accept the mandate of sobriety (and) make positive changes," the report says.
That was six years ago.
Last month, Whiteside was transferred to the Prairie du Chien Correctional Institution, where he's told there is finally a space in a drug and alcohol counseling program for him.
Urness was released from prison five years ago, at the age of 26.
Some of his victims' loved ones think his sentence was punishment enough, Urness says. But some, he knows, will never believe that.
"In my situation, there are probably people who still wish I was in there from now until eternity," he said.
As for Whiteside, the same dynamic is at play. His aunt, whose 15-year-old son died trapped in the fiery car, has found a way to move forward with the help of anti-depressants and her church, she said in a letter to the parole board.
She has seen the changes in Whiteside and believes he deserves a chance to live out in the world again.
"Ramiah loved my son, Payton Ashford, like his own brother," she wrote. "Ramiah is very loving, caring, respectful, and thoughtful. I know he never meant for any of this to happen or turn out this way. I know he has suffered a great deal also."
But for Paula Kirk, whose uncle, Roger, was struck by the stolen Cadillac and killed while waiting for a bus that would bring him home from work, it's not that simple.
"He should not be able to enjoy his life and move on, because he took so many innocent people," Kirk, 52, said of Whiteside. "I had to take my path through my church and I forgave him because God said I should, but I don't want him roaming the streets."
Perhaps Whiteside could help people on the outside, she mused, mentoring young black men from her neighborhood to keep them out of jail. But she doubts he or anyone in his situation could overcome the virtually insurmountable obstacles to achieving that goal.
"Even if you served all your time and got out, you want to get a job now and live your life decent, but people don't let you. This society we have is constantly judging people. If you won't let the person go straight because you're still judging them about their prison record, they go back and do what they did before. They have no reason to do good," she said.
"If he wants to do good, he should do it in prison."
David Liners, director of WISDOM, believes it's society's obligation to give prisoners who have been truly rehabilitated the opportunity to prove themselves back home.
"At what point is a sentence doing more harm than good?" he asked. "It's the American ideal: You've paid your debt to society, now you can start over. But it seems in many cases, we've lost sight of that fact."

Compassionate Release for 3 old law prisoners?

 presented in 2015 and rejected- new one on the way 2019

Nancy Ezell, Ron Schilling  and Ted Shaw are fine examples of the waste in lives and money our system engenders,  WISDOM and FFUP applied for Compassionate Release for these three in December in an effort to  highlight the need to let these folks free and reform the system. FFUP will continue to help old law prisoners apply while we pry open parole itself.
View summation of compassionate release application
view executive order 31 which allows old law prisoners to apply for compassionate release
view Full compassionate release application

'view responses thus far from The DOC and parole commission

This is an ongoing project, Visits to warden and parole commission are planned. If you would like to help with this effort enail

NANCY EZELL( 54991 TCI)  was Born 1952 and  is now 62.She was convicted in 1998 of drug possession “with intent to  manufacture, distribute or deliver.  (961.41.)” She has had multiple major heart surgeries, has type 2 diabetes  and is on oxygen. She is  now housed in unit with  young people and finds it confusing,  noisy  and consequently very stressful. To her requests to be moved , she is told there is no room anywhere else. 

Ron Schilling 32219 KMCI
 Born In 1951, Ron Schilling is now 63 and has been incarcerated since 1976, 39 plus years.  He killed a man during a drug deal gone bad.  He was a Viet Nam Veteran and there is good reason to believe that he was incapititated and not aware of what he was doing at the time of the crime,(see his letter in application)  but he has never shied away from taking responsibility for the death.  He has served his time well, staying clear of major conduct reports and earning several advanced degrees while PEL grants were still available. He is a fine musician, poet, and litigator and an inspiration to those around him. Ron was granted parole by Leonard Wells until he became victim of the new tough on crime rhetoric that also cost Leonard Wells his job.   

Terrance Shaw 138254, OSCI, born 1948, now 66, incarcerated since 1982..  
      Terrance was a Viet Nam war veteran with what would now be called PTSD. His crime was horrendous and also he was horrendously ill . He has been in prison for 32 years on a life sentence. He has been absolutely sincere is his attempt to redeem himself and we ask that he be given a second chance.
      “When I first came to prison in 1982 I didn't even know my high school fractions, decimals, and percents. But during my first year in prison I got clean and sober and had a Spiritual Awakening. I studied hard for my own personal enrichment to remedy my mathematical deficit and went on to the University of Wisconsin-Extension and got 4-credits in Algebra and 3-credits in Accounting, and became a prison GED math tutor.
      I also took and successfully completed the 4-year Ambassador Bible College correspondence course by Herbert W. Armstrong out of Passadena California. After that I took and successfully completed the 3-year Kenneth S. Hagin's RHEMA Bible College correspondence course out of Tulsa Oklahoma for 60-credits.
        Then I want on to get a Master's Degree in Religious Studies, a Doctorate in Biblical Studies, and a Ph.D. in the Philosophy of Religion. My Doctoral Dissertation is registered and copyrighted at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.
       Here at OSCI I had a meeting with Chaplain Reinke and let her know that when I am paroled I would like to apply with the WDOC for an Assistant Chaplain's position, since I believe I am called by God -and my religious correspondence courses make me qualified.”

Marvin Wilson explains the catch 22's of no parole very well

The subject of parole is huge and emotionally charged. Every activist in the country knows the heartbreak of advocating for a prisoner friend and watching him or her be disappointed time and again as it becomes clear that nothing he does will effect his ongoing entombment. Here we follow the money trail , give prisoners stories, and tell about campaigns here and in other states- where the story differs but little. Soon we will have a petition on line.
The Catch 22s of No Parole Well Explained

Marvin Wilson has been working to prove his innocence since incarcerated and now is eligible for parole. Here he clearly goes through the terribly frustrating excuses given year after year by the parole board to thousands of men ready and waiting for release. 

These are the excuses parole eligible men hear decade after decade.
The Wisconsin parole board gives out 12, 24, 36 and 48 month defers. Thus is the equivalent of sentencing the parole seeker to 1 co 4 additional years in prison even though the parole board isn't even a judge.
The common statement used by the parole board to deny parole is: "You have not served sufficient time for punishment." However the •board has not, nor has anyone, documented what is "sufficient time for punishment." Thus what is sufficient time served for punishment?
Wisconsin law sets parole dates for prisoners after they have serve:! 25% of their sentence and when sentenced by the judge, the judge had this in mind. Hence, if 25% of a sentence makes the prisoner eligible for release, thus 25% must be. Sufficient time for punishment. However, the parole board has been allowed to act as de facto court of law, de facto jury, de facto prosecutor and de facto sentencing judge, in the parole boards reconvicting and sentencing a prisoner to 1 to 4 additional years and denying parole, with the statement 'that: "You have not served, sufficient, time for punishment." Under Wisconsin law, that statement would be true only if the prisoner petitioned to see the parole board before completing 25% of his or her sentence. Thus 25% is sufficient time to serve for punishment under Wisconsin law.

The facts remain that the parole commissioner and parole board does not belong to the Wisconsin Bar Association of the state of Wisconsin, thus has not been licensed by the state of Wisconsin to act in the capacity of a prosecutor, jury, judge and court of law to Take a determination that after a prisoner under old or new law, has served 25% of their sentence, the prisoner has not served sufficient time for punishment and re-convict and sentence the prisoner to 1 to 4 additional years. When that judge sentenced the prisoner, the judge had the 25% parole date in mind and did not mean for the parole board to re convict and re-sentence the prisoner after he or she has done 25% of their sentence. Again, if 25% of a sentence is sufficient time to make the prisoner eligible for release according to Wisconsin law, then 25% must be sufficient time served for punishment. Or Wisconsin's parole law of 25% is just smoke and mirrors.

So what is the percentage of Wisconsin parole eligible prisoners that get out after doing 25% of their sentence? Or in other words, what percentage gets out the first time they see the parole board? If the percentage is not 90% or more, then the 25% parole hearing date is a legislative waste and a false hope for the prisoner. Thus is a violation of Due Process Rights.

Wisconsin law states that sufficient time has 'been served when old and new law prisoners have completed 25% of their sentence. The parole boards use of the statement: "You have not served sufficient time for punishment" is too loosely used. For it is a routine statement that is used in every case. So what is sufficient time served for punishment? If the prisoner has reached 25% of their sentence and the parole -board admits, or prison records show that the prisoner has had satisfactory behavior upon reaching- 25%, then that is sufficient time, served for punishment. If serving 25% of a sentence is sufficient time to be "eligible" for release, then why is 25% not sufficient time served for punishment? It appears that Wisconsin's 25% parole law is only a theory and not an actual practice because records show that no one is being released, at 25% of their sentence i.e. their first parole hearing date. So lets put this theory into practice.

The parole board saying an old or new law prisoner, has not served sufficient time for punishment is semantics and a play of words because if the statement was true, the prisoner could not have met with the parole board if that prisoner had not served sufficient time for punishment. The prisoner could not see the parole board before he or she has completed 25%of the sentence because the prisoner had not completed sufficient time for punishment i.e. 25% of their sentence, according to Wisconsin law of 25% of the sentence must be completed before parole can be given.

However, the parole board has not defined, on a consistent bases, what a "sufficient time to serve for punishment" is. Though it is well defined in Wisconsin law, but not practiced, that sufficient time for punishment is 25% of a sentence, it that is the use to set a parole 'date at 25% of a sentence but don't let ANYONE out at 25% of a sentence and the parole board says serving 25% of a sentence is not sufficient time served for punishment? It is a catch-22. The parole board is essentially saying that they are the prosecutor, jury, judge and court of law and can re-convict and re-sentence a prisoner to 1 to 4 more years at a time or in some cases MR.

In the days of parole commissioner John Huss in the early 1990's, prisoners had a hope of being paroled after serving 25% (or soon after) no matter the arias they were in prison for. Thus Wisconsin's prisons were less crowded.

Another common term of the parole board is: Release at this time would involve an unreasonable risk, to the public." However, the parole board does not even present any reasonable evidence, or evidence at all, from the prisoners prison file to backup this statement. Thus the statement is just routine and not of any factual bases if it is used on all prisoners. The parole board member, on average, meets with a prisoner for less than an hour and can not reasonably determine if the prisoner is a risk to society based- on a one time meeting. For a person that never met you before to say you are an unreasonable risk to the public is unreasonable.
If a person is sentenced to 40 years in prison, under old or new law, that would mean he or she had to do 10 years (25%) before having a parole hearing. Ten years is a long time and for the most part, the prisoner has completed HSED/GED, a vocational trade class, ME programming and took sane time out for self-improvement and maturing. Thus the prisoner is not and unreasonable risk to the community in whence he or she came from, or any community, but rather a more mature person that has made sane accomplishments even in an adverse place like prison.
For prison in itself is a community, with populations reaching over one thousand, and if the prisoner has not been convicted of a crime in over ten years of incarceration, then the prisoner has consistently shown for years on end that he or she poses no threat to the "outer" community. Thus how can the parole board truthfully and reasonably state that the prisoner is -an unreasonable risk to the public? The parole board members have used this routine statement to place themselves as a god or fortuneteller to be able to foresee the future to determine that a person who served 25% of their sentence would be an unreasonable risk to the public if released. Thus statement violates Due- Process and constitutional rights.

Further, the parole board uses: "Your program participation has not been satisfactory" to deny release. When a prisoner has had his Assessment and Evaluation (A&E) he is given certain programs to complete such as HSED, vocational training and anger management. However, once he gets to his designated prison, it is up to the program directors to allow him into the program such as anger management, AODA and CGIP regardless if he request to complete the program. So the person with the 40 year sentence can request the anger management program as soon as he gets into the prison but he will be denied access due to his sentence length. The programs director will state, "Due to the length of your sentence, prisoners with shorter time have priority to this program. Request again when you get closer to your mandatory release date." Which is 26 years (or 2/3 of the 4-0 year sentence). This, in itself, makes the A&E process obsolete if the prisoner is parole eligible at 25% their sentence but can't take certain programs until their mandatory release date. Three things stand out here.
1. If the prisoner is being denied access to needed anger management programming, the DOC is not preparing the prisoner for release at 25% of that sentence. A person that has a parole date should have the same priority to a program as a person with a short sentence, because in theory, the person should get out once 25% of their sentence is completed. If the prisoner is in and out of the hole for fighting, the denial of programming is a factor because the DOC has previously assessed him, at A&E, with an anger problem but won't address it promptly by getting him the needed programming.
2. If the DOC is denying the prisoner access to a program, the parole board will use this against the prisoner as program participation not being satisfactory, even though it is documented that the prisoner has tried to complete all recommended programs before his 25% has been served.
3. If the prisoner has 40 years but being denied anger management until mandatory release, that would mean that he will have to be in prison for 26 years with this untreated anger problem, that the DOC assessed that ha has 26 years ago, before he can get in the program and it gets treated. What is the logic behind this? None! Prisoners with parole dates should have priority to programs to prepare them for release at 25% of their sentence. If not, the DOC is either saying that, he has to self-treat an anger problem that he don't understand why he has for 26 years until the DOC is ready to treat it, the DOC is using denial of programs to keep prisons packed or there really is no anger problem, the DOC just put anger management on A&E routinely, so the parole board has something to use against releasing prisoners at 25%(or at any point)

The crux of the matter is, it is not the prisoner who is "refusing" the program, that is a different matter. It is the DOC who is refusing to allow the prisoner access to complete the program. If a prisoner has reached 25% of their sentence and has not refused any programs, and the DOC has denied him access to programs that ME said are necessary, then the prisoner has done no wrong in that regard, as such he should be released.

What use is it to have a parole hearing date at 25% of the sentence, by law, and have a, parole board that says 25% is not sufficient time served for punishment, contrary to law? The parole board is above the law. These two, theories and practices, conflict. One or the other is unconstitutional. And we can rationalize that it is the parole board's practices. With the Wisconsin law of 25% being sufficient time served to be released, it makes the parole board obsolete. The law of parole hearing date at 25% of the sentence and the prison record should be enough in determining if someone should be released. It would make things that much easier and ease the overcrowding prisons and save tax-payers money if parole eligible prisoners were released on paroles.

By serving 25% of a sentence not being sufficient time served for punishment according to the parole board and granting parole is now discretionary, it becomes a system of how the parole board member feels on any given day or how the member feels about a certain individual or the alleged crime, on whether to release that prisoner or not. Thus serving 25% of a sentence before a parole hearing and granting parole based on how the parole board member feels about you in a 30 minute meeting, is a conflict. If the judge sentenced a person to 40 years, the judge had it in mind that in 10 years (25%) that person would have completed programs and matured, thus should be released.

If a prisoner reached 25% of their sentence, and the parole board has no logical, not theoretical, evidence that release at this time would involve an unreasonable risk to the public, and the prisoner has tried to take recommended programs and the DOC denied him access, the prisoner should be released. It can not be a system of the prisoner meets Wisconsin's law of 25% but the parole board overrules Wisconsin state law and says, 25% is not sufficient time served for punishment. Or the prisoner readies 25% but the parole board denies release based on a risk to the public with no evidence to support that. Or the prisoner gets to 25% but the parole board denies release based on programs not being completed when it is the DOC that denies access to programming. It is all a catch-22 and needs to be changed. A policy must be put into place, retroactively, for old and new law prisoners, that have "reached (or would) 25% of their sentence, to cease the arbitrary discretionary parole board and allow 25% of a sentence to be sufficient time served for punishment, along with
1. a parole plan,
2. satisfactory record based on the last year (as they do now) before the current earing
3. no logical evidence showing that you are or would be a risk to the public,
4. an attempt to complete A&B programs before 25% of your sentence is up.

This way it is on the prisoner to show by evidence and facts, that they have served sufficient time, pose no threat to the public and have done all that they can to complete all necessary programs before they have reached 25% of their sentence.

The department shall use a special release program to relieve crowding in state prison by releasing certain prisoners to parole supervision using a procedure other than mandatory release under sec. 302.11 or release under sec. 304.06 (1) (b). Most prisoners under old and new law are in prison for homicide related cases and this is why granting parole is routinely denied. However, if viewed in its full context, most of these parole eligible prisoners were in their youth (teens and early 20*s) when these crimes occurred and now have spent their 20 's and part of their 30's (and some of them 40's, 50's and part of their 60's-prison). Thus they are no longer in their youth but mature adults that view the world differently, value life and want to contribute to society. The crimes are not excused because they were committed in their youth, and/or out of ignorance. However, it explains that the person that they were in their youth and now, are two totally different people. And to perpetually punish them for a crime done in their youth, and/or out of ignorance, serves no purpose to justice or to a so-called civilized society, when that 'person has changed and is positive now. Thus the department should use this special release program statue to release old and new law prisoners based on their conduct now, not their past crime, or based on who they ware 10, 15 or 20 years ago, to relieve prison overcrowding.

Therefore, the above facts are to be taken into consideration for a more uniformed approach to parole in any given case. Parole should be mandatory at 25% with satisfactory conduct for all old and new law prisoners, based on their behavior for the Last year prior to the parole hearing. To perpetually incarcerate changed people is inane and serves no purpose in the scheme of justice or restorative justice.

By: Marvin D Wilson 297343

NLCI PO Box 4000
new Lisbon, WI 53950