May 9 WISDOM Prison Prevention Conference Call

5:00-6:00 pm

Call: 712-432- 1601

Use code 423950

The prison population in Wisconsin has more than tripled since 1990. Wisconsin has the highest black male incarceration rate in the country. Half of African American men in their 30s in Milwaukee County have been in state prison. Incarceration is expensive and comes with additional social costs. We can keep people out of prison:

Join our work to:

  • Increase funding for Treatment Alternatives and Diversions (TAD). A 2012 study showed that by fully funding the state’s Treatment Alternatives and Diversions fund, Wisconsin could keep 3,000 people per year out of the state’s prisons, and more than 27,000 from ever going to jail.
  • Reform Wisconsin’s sentencing laws. Inordinately long prison sentences do nothing to enhance safety, they are extremely costly, and they reduce the odds that the offender will be successfully re-integrated back into the community when she/he is released.
  • Keep all 17 year-olds in the juvenile system.

May 9 WISDOM Solitary Confinement Conference Call


4:00-5:00 pm

Please join our work to greatly reduce the use of solitary confinement. More than 15 days in solitary confinement is torture. It magnifies mental health issues and destroys people. Other states and nations have learned to get by without it, we can too.

Tel:  712-432-1601

Use code: 423950

April State Budget Hearings

Budget hearings

Finance Committee Members

Here are the members of the Wisconsin Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee, helpfully provided at Madison Action Day by Senator Fred Risser, together with a map showing what Senate and Assembly Districts they are from. While it’s always best for them to hear from their constituents, given their powerful role with regard to the current budget review, they will pay attention to messages from any Wisconsinite. Let them know that we need more money for TAD, money for a restoration/crisis center in Dane County for people with mental illness as an alternative to jail, etc. Their email addresses and phone numbers are on this sheet.

Finance Committee Members



Madison Action Day: March 30th

Nearly 1,000 people of faith from across Wisconsin will gather at the state capitol to advocate for criminal justice reform to be reflected in the proposed state budget.

Breakfast (including special breakfast for religious leaders) and networking.

Breakout sessions, lunch, march around the Capitol, press conference, and meetings with state representatives.

Cost: $25 (includes light breakfast and lunch)


Flyer for Printing

MOSES meets with Sec. Litscher

On July 26, 2016 the Wisconsin Criminal Justice Coordinating Council met. Sec. Litscher from the Department of Corrections chaired the meeting. The statement below from WISDOM was read during the public comment section at the end of the meeting. It was an opportunity to share our concerns directly with Sec. Litscher and people working in the criminal justice system throughout the state.


We are very concerned about the way things are going in our Wisconsin prison system.  We are living with:

–Staff shortages that threaten safety, good order and the health of corrections officers;

— The overuse of solitary confinement, especially of so-called “Administrative Confinement;

–The horrible situation at Lincoln Hills and at Copper Lake

— The deaths of inmates inside the walls,

–Hunger strikes and forced feeding that paint a very inhumane picture.

Our state’s commitment to mass incarceration has finally reached a point where it has broken the system. The most basic problem is not too few guards, too few programs or mis-management.  The problem is that we have far too many prisoners.


Our Corrections system is broken, and it cannot fix itself.  We need a serious statewide summit with all the stakeholders at the table.  We need an open discussion of all the issues listed above, not with an eye toward blame, but with an eye toward fixing things.  We need the Governor, the legislature and the people of Wisconsin to take a serious look at the kinds of reforms that have worked and are working in other states.  We believe those should start with greater limitation on solitary confinement, with a drastic reduction in crimeless revocations, with giving old law inmates an honest chance at parole.  I’m sure there are other steps, as well.


Please, offer leadership in our state by confronting our Corrections crisis in an open and transparent way, and by looking at real solutions, not just trying to hold on and make the old system work.

-Barbara Benson

MOSES Advocacy Helps Pass Resolution 556 #nonewjail


Tireless advocacy by the volunteer members of MOSES, an inter-faith social justice organization, led to numerous improvements to Resolution 556, which was passedUNANIMOUSLY PASSED tonight by the Dane County Board. “The passage of this resolution demonstrates that when everyday people organize in solidarity, the community can significantly improve our County’s criminal justice system” said Morris Wexler, VP of MOSES, and longtime regulatory consultant. By passing resolution 556 “the County board is unequivocally stating its support for eliminating racial disparities, reducing incarceration, reducing the number of jail beds as well as its opposition to the construction of a new stand-alone jail” (RES 556, 316-319) as well as creating three community Work Groups to investigate solutions and make budget recommendations to realize the comprehensive reform of Dane County’s criminal justice system.

Specifically MOSES efforts led to:

  1. Unequivocal language that rejects the construction of a new stand-alone jail.
  2. An official commitment to comprehensive reform of the Dane County Criminal Justice System.
  3. Adoption of a set of guiding principles for future action.
  4. Inclusion, as partners, of people of color, people with mental health needs and people affected by incarceration within the Work Groups.
  5. Focus on racial and mental health disparities in the Work Group investigations.
  6. Prioritization of racial equity in access to and participation in community-based programs and alternatives to jail.
  7. Grounding future criminal justice budgets and jail planning in the recommendations of the Work Groups.
  8. Encouraged a competitive bidding process for criminal justice reform on contracts.

MOSES is proud of its contribution to this victory for justice in Dane County – but this is just the beginning. “The MOSES Jail Task Force will be transforming into smaller task forces to support the resolution’s Work Groups to ensure that our vision for criminal justice reform and investing in community-based alternatives becomes a reality” said Jeanie Verschay, a member of the MOSES Jail Task Force, and the Executive Director of Employment Connections. MOSES recognizes and thanks all supervisors who voted for and sponsored resolution 556 and especially supervisors, Stubbs, Bayrd, Corrigan, Pan, Wegleitner, Dye, Hendrick, Pertl, and Willett for their work either on committee or in meetings with MOSES. MOSES also recognizes the work of other community groups that helped shape resolution 556: YGB, NAMI, No Dane County Jail Working Group, MUM and DD Coalition among others.



For more information please contact:

[Urgent Action] Contact your legislators: Second Chance Act and Jail Resolution

On Tuesday, May 19th, the Joint Committee on Finance may consider a budget amendment to pass the Second Chance Act, moving most 17-years-olds out of adult corrections and into the juvenile system. Please take 30 seconds to call your State Senator and Assembly Representative with this message: “Please support the Second Chance proposal to return 17-year-olds to the juvenile system, which will be considered in the budget discussions. action-thDon’t let another year go by without making this needed reform, which will be good for kids, for families, and for our communities.” Per David Liners: “We might be close to winning this one!”

On Thursday, May 21st, the County Board will vote on Resolution 556. MOSES Jail Task Force has had a huge win in getting nearly all of our most important policy recommendations incorporated.

Resolution 556 commits to implementing significant improvements to the Dane County criminal justice system to eliminate racial disparities, dramatically reduce solitary and incarceration for people with mental illness, and increase community alternatives.  Additionally, the resolution strongly states the County Board’s support for reducing the number of jail beds, and explicitly opposes the construction of a new standalone jail. A copy of Resolution 556 is attached to this email.

MOSES Jail Task Force members have put several months and countless hours into this important resolution; it’s now YOUR TURN to ensure that the whole County Board feels the power of MOSES in support of Resolution 556!
Attached is a brief statement of support you can use.

Letter to send to your legislators about Res. 556
Resolution 556 with edits


Updates from WISDOM

From David Liners:

“Before you reform evil, you have to see evil.”  Rev. Jerry Hancock makes this statement in a ‘For the Record’ TV program. Click so you can watch it now. He and Talib Akbar, both leaders in WISDOM’s MOSES affiliate, do a great job of educating on the evils of Wisconsin’s prison system, especially the abuse of solitary confinement.

Our replica of a solitary cell that is touring the state does a good job of letting people see and experience the evil of solitary confinement. People can sign up to sit in the cell with earphones to experience the constant noise. Talib drew the exact sketch for the cell while he was incarcerated in it. He understands the importance of experiencing evil so we can reform it. He and others shared their experiences last night at a forum at Marquette University that was very well received.

You can add your voice to a variety of reforms for which we are working by joining us for Madison Action Day on April 29. Sign up by filling out this form and/or emailing to

Here is some of the press coverage of our replica solitary cell:

Drawing by Talib Akbar


MOSES Responds to Dane County Board Resolution 556

MOSES Jail Task Force has written a position statement, approved by the MOSES general body, with suggestions to improve County Board Resolution 556.  
We have been informed that, in deference to mourning in the community for Tony Robinson, one of the co-sponsors of Resolution 556 requested that consideration of of Resolution 556 be removed from the agendas of the PP&J and HHN committee meetings scheduled for Tuesday, Mar. 10. The item has been removed and will be scheduled for a future meeting. The MOSES Jail Task Force will inform us of when Resolution 556 will be considered by these committees.

MOSES Abbreviated Position Points for Resolution 556
on Dane County Jail and Criminal Justice System

The MOSES Jail Task Force has the following three primary goals:

  1. Stop all unnecessary incarceration
    1. End racial disparities
    2. Treatment instead of jail for people with mental illness, developmental disabilities, or addictions
  2. Improve jail conditions for those inside
  3. Ensure that any facility changes promote goals 1 and 2

MOSES’s full position statement of March 7, 2015, elaborates on these goals in an effort to strengthen Resolution 556, currently before the County Board. Below is a condensed version of the position points found in the full position statement.

1. Create Crisis Intervention and Restoration Centers:Create community­based jail alternatives including one or more crisis intervention or restoration centers, and locate the centers to provide equitable access, especially to people of color. Commit to increasing County funding for mental health services, and also use BadgerCare and other health insurance to expand such services.

2. Expand Alternatives and Diversions: Expand current diversion programs and alternatives to incarceration, including electronic monitoring (home detention), drug courts, and restorative courts, while also increasing racially equitable access and participation. Charge the Length of Stay Work Group with determining how to expand existing and other alternatives and diversions.

3. Achieve Racial Equity: Set measurable and concrete goals for increasing racial equity in access to and participation in all services and programs discussed in Resolution 556, and include achievement of racial equity in the missions of all three work groups. Include specific racial equity goals in all sections of Resolution 556.

4. Address Life and Safety Concerns:Obtain from the Sheriff specific information about the immediate facilities needs that are related to life and safety, as well as racially disaggregated data about the people most at risk due to these issues. Wait on making broader jail space planning decisions until the number of people in the County jail has decreased from other policy changes.

5. Strengthen the Work Groups: Commit the County Board to act on the work groups’ recommendations. Solicit participation in the work groups from national experts who have proven experience in community transformation, reducing incarceration, and/or decreasing racial disparities. Charge the work groups to identify how specific policy changes can be implemented.

6. Implement Better Data Systems: Immediately build a Dane County Criminal Justice Dashboard that pulls data from existing systems. Make this information, disaggregated by relevant factors, available to the general public, as well as to all parts of the criminal justice system and other social service agencies.

7. Connect People to BadgerCare and FoodShare: Make it a County priority to facilitate helping people, including those incarcerated in the County jail, to apply for BadgerCare, Affordable Care Act health insurance, FoodShare, and/or FoodShare Employment and Training.

8. Refocus Planning to Reduce Jail Space Needs: Require Mead and Hunt (M&H) to consider three or more reform scenarios that lead to different reductions in the jail population. Make clear that M&H does not have sway over the three work groups. Make any contract with M&H available for public review before being adopted.

If you have questions, please contact the MOSES Jail Task Force at

Visit to subscribe to the MOSES Jail Task Force email list.