I was looking for a class today at the First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee about ecological health and had bought the book and was diligently studying it. However while I was waiting a friend from the Black Lives Matter group told me about a meeting regarding re-incarceration without conviction. I had read an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about a black man who was on probation and was driving a car and was stopped by the police. It so happened that the man has a white girl friend who is a gun enthusiast and has pictures of herself with her friends on social media holding their guns. All of which were duly registered with the State of Wisconsin. But he did not know the gun was in the car and was was charged with being a felon in possession of a weapon. Fortunately a jury found him innocent but his probation officer revoked him on the grounds he was a danger to the community.
The man had roots in the community including a small transportation business and a child. Instead he became one of the more than 4,000 people who are sent back to prison in Wisconsin without having committed a crime. The Wisconsin Department of Corrections has wide latitude in deciding whether to revoke people but this case has something in common with many others in that the person considered dangerous was a black man even though he had a spotless record and was taking tangible steps to improve himself.
The two speakers at the meeting, one white and one black, are also examples of trying to fight the odds. The white speaker was Mark Rice, who is a candidate for a doctorate from UWM, told about his battle to overcome being revoked. He had a history of mental illness and had previously lived in Madison where his probation officer had a background that allowed him to understand his situation. But when he moved to Milwaukee his probation officer had no such training and revoked him for an incident resulting from him mental illness. His former probation officer went to bat for him which helped him return to the community.
The black speaker told of being revoked 3 times and being homeless. One of his revocations resulted from a malfunction of the monitoring bracelet that he wears on his ankle. If you you use a cell phone, are late for an appointment, accept a job without permission, leave the county or violate any of the other rules, Wisconsin can and will send your most often black or brown body back to prison.
It would be value to learn more about Ex Prisoners Organizing for Statewide Penal Reform (EXPO) and do what you can to stop the trend of mass incarceration. If you follow this link you will find out more about this group :Phone: 414-831-2070 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Address: 2821 N. Fourth Street, #537, Milwaukee, WI 53212