Wednesday, June 26, 2019

GUT PUNCHED, a Promise Betrayed

No prisoners will be eligible for pardon under Tony Evers’ new pardon advisory board guidelines. Governor Evers and Mandela Barnes made it seem like the parole board would bring long-awaited relief to incarcerated people. While revealing the order creating the board, they made statements and social media posts about Wisconsin's high incarceration rate and told the press “we believe in forgiveness and the power of redemtion” which made headlines across the state. Unfortunately, that forgiveness does not extend as far as it might seem.
You don’t have to look beyond the first page of Governors Evers’ newpardon application to see the betrayal. After a year of talking about dramatically reducing prison population and then months of back and forth between the governor’s transition team and the public; and after hundreds of prisoners submitted their heart-rending stories about indefinite delay of release, the new pardon application comes out with these fateful words:
Eligibility: You are eligible for a pardon only if all of the following conditions apply to you:
1. You are seeking a pardon for a Wisconsin felony conviction.
2. You have completed your entire sentence at least five (5) years ago. This means you:
Completed all confinement; and
Completed supervised release (e.g., probation, parole, or extended supervision).”
website containing pardon application:

So, who benefits here? Those who are past supervision (not “on paper”) already can vote. The pardon does not expunge the record, it does allow firearms but after five years out an ex prisoner gains little benefit from the pardon. Prison population will certainly not be reduced with this limitation.