MOSES December 3rd Meeting

First Unitarian

900 University Bay Dr, Madison, WI 53705

9:30 Networking

10:00 Program

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Please join us for our Annual Celebration from 1PM to 4PM at Red Riley Barn and Retreat Center at 8283 North Riley Road in Verona Wisconsin.

There will be a drum circle, testimonials and live music. Please bring a dish to pass as well as plates and silverware to eat with. We are trying to make this a waste free event! Please contact if you have any questions or need a ride.

MOSES Picnic Event

Diversions Work Group Findings

Click here to read the full document that discusses the MOSES Diversion Work Group Suggestions.



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

FRANK DAVIS speaks about re-entry barriers in Wisconsin

Prisoners returning to society after serving a sentence face discrimination and many barriers to re-entry. A group of former inmates are working to ensure that those returning to society after a prison term are accepted as valued members of the community.

Wisconsin Public Radio, © Copyright 2016, Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System and Wisconsin Educational Communications Board.


Position Description: MOSES Community Organizer


The individual we seek for the full time position as Organizer for MOSES (Madison Organizing in Strength, Equality, and  Solidarity) is community centric,  passionate and committed to ending racial  and economic inequity and reforming the criminal justice system in Wisconsin.  This person will lead in building strong relationships with congregations and organizations  sharing this goal. This position will require flexible hours, evenings and weekends. Pay range is $40,000- $42,000, with good health insurance and 3 weeks of annual vacation.


MOSES is one of 11 affiliates of WISDOM, a statewide organization. (See It is a growing and energetic community organization, currently including 20 faith-based and nonprofit organizational members and many committed individuals. (See and Facebook MOSES: Madison Organizing in Strength, Equality and Solidarity.)


Key Responsibilities

  • Build strong relationships with the MOSES leadership board, to understand their goals and vision for MOSES;
  • Recruit, train and support a diversity of people (including congregation leaders, formerly-incarcerated persons, persons with a great range of income, education and experience) to be effective, collaborative leaders in MOSES and effective advocates for systemic change;
  • Regularly attend meetings of all MOSES Task Groups and Committees, and communicate and coordinate their efforts with other MOSES members and allies;
  • Ensure that all MOSES committees, activities and meetings of are in accord with its mission;
  • Coordinate advocacy with governmental agencies, including monitoring relevant legislative actions;
  • Work collaboratively with all affiliate organizations in the WISDOM network;
  • Collaborate with and monitor efforts of the fund raising committee;
  • Undertake other responsibilities as assigned by the President.

Necessary Skills and Abilities:

  • Understanding of the criminal justice system and ability to relate respectfully and empathetically especially with the most vulnerable members of our community;
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and demonstrated skills in building consensus;
  • “Self-starter,” with proven ability to convert goals into strategies and an action plan;
  • Understanding of how public policy is made and of how to impact that process;
  • Respect for and interest in persons and communities of various faiths;
  • Experience in  training and community organizing;
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills, including  the ability to translate policy and legislation into summaries understandable to the non-specialist;
  • Must have willingness, ability, license and vehicle for frequent travel throughout the state.

The immediate supervisor for position is the President of MOSES, additional support will be provided by the personnel committee.  For oversight and professional development, the MOSES Organizer is expected to participate in the WISDOM Organizing Staff, and to meet regularly with the WISDOM State Director.  

Applicants should submit a resume and cover letter (addressed to “Community Organizer Hiring Committee”)

   by July 31, 2016 to We are an equal opportunity employer and encourage everyone with these passions and qualities to apply.

Compassionate Release

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Focus on Compassionate Release: Larry Spencer

When ‘Tough on Crime’ is a rallying cry of a justice system, it seems as if compassion would naturally be precluded. Even as compassionate release has become an applicable cost-saving measure in prison reform, it is rarely used due to the Department of Corrections appearing to be weak on prisoners. As a self-proclaimed white elephant, Larry Spencer is well aware of how rare compassionate releases from Wisconsin Prisons are. After serving 15 years of a 40-year sentence, Spencer was discharged from the Oshkosh Correctional Facility in February on compassionate leave for a heart condition. He sat down with MOSES this month to talk about his experience, release, and plans for the future.
Spencer’s path to the DOC was somewhat storied. The Madison native experienced a peppered history of petty, non-violent crime throughout early to mid-adulthood. Some years were better than others. Yet in 2001, a non-violent drug charge landed him a 40-year sentence. He was initially sent to Green Bay Correctional Facility, a maximum-security prison. There, he became interested in law, advocating for other inmates as a jailhouse lawyer, as well as advocating for his own non-medical compassionate release. As he waded through years of appeals, his health was starting to fail. In 2015, he met social worker Peggy Swan who took a look at his case and told Spencer, according to him, “You do not belong here!”
Swan advocated for his freedom and a year later, at age 65, Spencer was released, but not without a fight. The Department of Correction insisted on sending him to hospice care farm outside of Milwaukee. Spencer refused. He was legally free to move as he pleased and demanded to go back to Madison. The compromise? The Red Roof Inn near the prison, without food, financial assistance or civilian clothing. With help from First Congregational and MOSES vice president, Talib Akbar, Spencer found his way to Madison. When he returned, he bounced around from different living arrangements, ultimately taking residence at Trinity Senior Living, on the east side of Madison.

Now, his main concern is staying as healthy as long as he can.  One revelation he has made is his love off fresh fruits and vegetables. Larry Spencer loves tomatoes; he credits them with the longevity that he has enjoyed thus far. He also credits his focus on living on his resilience through tough times. Spencer overcame childhood cancer with the same outlook and expects similar results. He hopes to get, “another summer out of this old heart,” spending his days seeing old childhood friends and enjoying his life.

Larry Spencer’s compassionate release shouldn’t solely be regarded as an avenue for dying with dignity, it is all about living with dignity. For the greater prison population, this avenue to dismissal should not be an anomaly. Introduced in a budget act in 2001, compassionate release in Wisconsin is a relatively fresh (and somewhat unknown) option for prisoners. It’s also rather obscure because it’s rarely granted. Under a compassionate release update in 2009 (that was repealed in 2011), compassionate release was expanded to include more inmates. In close to a two-year period, eight out of the fifty-five that applied were granted release; more than half died less than a year after. Even if looking from a purely economic standpoint, how is releasing 14% of applicants going to change Wisconsin’s dire tax situation? Rather than taking a ‘tough on crime’ approach that is proven ineffective and expensive, can Wisconsin be cost-effective with a ‘compassionate on giving people human dignity’ strategy?

Written by Laura Peterson