incarceration

Tracy King, fotolia

Mandatory minimum prison sentencing have been a hot topic as of late amongst Wisconsin lawmakers.

Maayan Silver

Behind the locked doors of the Milwaukee County House of Correction for two hour-long classes every week, an unlikely message emanates.

Dave Nakayama / Flickr

Right now, there are more than two million people incarcerated in the United States - but that’s just a small fraction of people with a criminal record.

More than 75 million people living in the United States have been convicted of some kind of crime, most of whom spend the majority of their lives in free society. But just because they served their sentence, that doesn’t mean they’re free from consequences associated with their conviction.

LaToya Dennis

Detention centers aren’t typically known for having green space, especially not in garden form. But there’s a school of practice that believes gardening holds healing powers—even behind bars.

Keith Schubert

Several people who have served time at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility are pushing the state to close it. Members of the Wisconsin branch of EXPO, or Ex-Prisoners Organizing,  issued their call at a meeting Thursday at MATC. The organization's president, Mark Rice, says the Milwaukee facility is unfit, plus it mainly houses people who are not there for committing a crime.

Photos.com

Across the country and in Wisconsin, the number of youth being held in state run detention facilities is on the decline, according to a study released by Youth First and Urban Institute.

Between 2005 and 2014, the average daily population at Wisconsin run juvenile correction facilities fell by 52 percent. While the numbers are improving, African American youth are disproportionately impacted, making up 70 percent of the population in Wisconsin’s juvenile detention centers.

Photos.com

Some GOP lawmakers in Wisconsin are looking to get tougher on juvenile offenders. Right now, the state can sentence them to no longer than three year behind bars, but a bill circulating in Madison right now would allow juvenile offenders to be locked up until age 25. While some Republican leaders say the move is necessary to curtail crime, some Democrats prefer a different approach.

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U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants longer prison sentences for people who commit federal drug crimes. Late last week, he directed U.S. attorneys to seek the most serious charges possible. Sessions says tough action is needed to address the spike in violence in some cities and the opioid epidemic. Jerome Dillard spent time in both federal and state prison, and is now the Wisconsin director of Expo – Ex-prisoners Organizing. It works to end mass incarceration and help former offenders lead productive lives.

Updated at 12:10 p.m. ET

In a memo to staff, Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered federal prosecutors to "charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense" — a move that marks a significant reversal of Obama-era policies on low-level drug crimes.

The two-page memo, which was publicly released Friday, lays out a policy of strict enforcement that rolls back the comparatively lenient stance established by Eric Holder, one of Sessions' predecessors under President Barack Obama.

Wisconsin Inmates Report Despair, Little Counseling in Solitary Confinement

Apr 17, 2017
Emily Shullaw for the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Waupun Correctional Institution inmate Cesar DeLeon said he has punched the wall until his fist is bloody during 15 years in prison in which he has rotated in and out of solitary confinement.

“I can’t understand why I have to do it,” said DeLeon, 34, “but the pain somehow gives me a sense of reality.”

In recent years, Wisconsin has sent several thousand people back to prison, even though they did not commit new crimes. What they did was violated the rules of their release by committing what otherwise might be considered minor offenses. On Wednesday, a panel of legislators debated a bill that could increase the number of so-called “crimeless revocations.”

University of Wisconsin Press

Crime and punishment. It’s not just a Dostoevsky novel, it’s also a very real issue that unfolds in courts around Wisconsin.  

When a defendant is convicted of a crime, he or she goes in front of a judge to be sentenced. But the story doesn’t begin and end there. Beyond the judges, there are many actors affecting what happens to that defendant before, during and after sentencing, from legislators and electors to parole boards and corrections departments.

Wisconsin imprisons a higher percentage of black men than any other state in the country – the statistics are well-known. What gets less attention is the number of people here, mainly men, whom the criminal justice system sends back to prison without convicting them of a new crime.

Coburn Dukehart / Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Prisoners at the Wisconsin facilities in Columbia and Green Bay may be participating in the hunger strike that a few inmates at the Waupun Correctional Institution began on June 5th. They call it their “Dying to Live” campaign and say they are protesting the state’s abuse of solitary confinement.

Chance Zombor served 12 years in Wisconsin prisons. His crimes included armed robbery and battery.

“When things happen behind these prison walls, nobody sees it. It’s like out of sight, out of mind. Largely society sees them as deserving of whatever they  did," says Zombor.

Kaitlyn Madison / EXPO

The prison population in Wisconsin has more than tripled since 1990. Drug enforcement and mandatory minimum sentence laws are just a few reasons to blame, and their effects have been disproportionately consequential to African American men.

A 2013 study by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee revealed that Wisconsin has the highest rate of incarceration for black men in the country.

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