This election season there are many misleading attack ads focusing on rising crime, bail and parole to incite, intimidate and promote a “tough on crime” approach. “Put out the key.”
I have been active for the past 15 years, with (Northern Conferences Organized to Increase) NAOMI, an affiliate of WISDOM, advocating for the reform of the criminal justice system and focusing on the way “knowledge of sin”: To respect humanity. power, reducing retribution, protecting our communities, and ultimately, addressing the root causes of crime to prevent crime. I would like to share some of these thoughts.
The truth is about giving up
No parole has been granted for a person convicted after January 2000, when Pono began sentencing. A judge in Wisconsin determines the number of years a person will spend in prison, known as a pretrial detention, and the number of years a person will be supervised in the community, known as the long check.
About 2,000 Wisconsinites, or about 10 percent of our prison population, eligible for parole were sentenced more than 22 years ago by judges who said they would have a chance to release each them by completing good projects created while incarcerated. Those who have been released on parole in the past four years have worked hard to do needed work and support their families and communities, and none of them have been found guilty of violence new.
I want to tell you about my friend Bill in this episode. I met Bill in 2015 at McNaughton Correctional Center, where he was incarcerated and I was in the ministry. I continued my relationship with him by writing letters and visiting the other two correctional centers where he was transferred. When I met Bill, he had been in prison for over 35 years, starting at the age of 17, for his involvement in a murder that occurred during a drug deal. His childhood was rough; a gang member; participate in many reform projects and non-authoritative behaviors. This continued during his first two years in prison, and he spent much of that time in solitary confinement. After that, he started to learn, to read the Bible, to take writing lessons and other preparation programs that are available. His faith grew and his transformation continued. When I met him, he was not the same person he was when he was 17; many positive changes. Bill was paroled in 2019 and was sent to his hometown in Milwaukee, where he lived with a sister, took advantage of the support programs available for released prisoners, and attended church services. all the time, had a life. He got the job and adjusted to his “new” world. Bill survived, married, moved to Rockford to be closer to his daughter and granddaughter, and still had a job. I’m still going to call him and hope I can reach him. I believe that Bill is one of the many successes for those released from prison. I have many friends and colleagues in EXPO (Ex-incarcerated People Organizing) who are actively contributing members of their communities. We all benefit when people are valued and respected and given opportunities to flourish in their communities!
The truth about the bank account
Bail is an outdated and unfair way of determining who should be released into the community while awaiting trial. The bailout only ensures that the poor stay in jail and the wealthy are released. A plan to end bankruptcy is a plan that keeps or releases people based on the damage they do, rather than how much money they have. So, the bank account does not make us very safe.
Correcting the causes of crime
Wisconsin will never solve its crime problems by putting more officers on the streets, building prisons and incarcerating more people. Instead, a bold new initiative is needed that relies more on addressing the root causes of crime: poverty, hopelessness, poor quality of education, lack of treatment and resources for addiction and mental health issues. We want to invest in life-affording activities; safe and affordable housing; public transport; anti-violence programs; a peer support program for ex-prisoners; high quality treatment programs and educational opportunities are available.
People who commit serious crimes should be held accountable, but not thrown away as people, who still have value as people who are worthy of healing and recovery.
Ron Alexander of the Maine village, Northcentral Congregations Organized to Make an Impact, or NAOMI
Editor’s Note: Wausau Pilot & Review welcomes comments from readers, residents and candidates for local office. The opinions of readers and columnists are independent of this newspaper and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Wausau Pilot & Review. To submit, email firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to 500 N. Third St., Suite 208-8, Wausau, Wis. 54403.