Friday, April 25, 2014

Wisconsin's Insane Prison Problem

Yesterday the Siren posted a graph and asked our dear readers to guess what the ever increasing blue bars might represent.

You didn't disappoint - clever answers included the unemployed, kids kicked off BadgerCare, public workers, among others. Some of you got very close with minorities in prison and smarty pants, Joanne Brown, hit it bang on with Wisconsin's prison population.

Wisconsin has a really big prison problem.

It's not just expensive, topping $2.25 billion to run. It's really big - twice that of our neighbor Minnesota. Most shocking, however, is that Wisconsin locks up more Black males than any other state - and not by a little - DOUBLE the national average.


On top of that, between 2011 and 2012 only 150 prisoners were granted parole. (Nearly 3000 were eligible at a cost of something like $30,000 a year per person to house and feed - you do the fucking math.) Compare that to 1651 granted parole in 2004.

Wanna have a discussion on "big government" Mr. Teabilly? You go first, because when you live in a state that sends more black men to prison than to college - on the taxpayers dime - you've got no room to talk about how Republicans want a smaller government footprint.

It was Tommy Thompson that commandeered the prison boom instituting "truth in sentencing" laws and building prisons. While Jim Doyle attempted to slow down prison population growth - realizing the only downturn in 20 years - it turned out to be brief when Scott Walker repealed Doyle's reforms, putting Wisconsin back on a growth track, creating the first time prison spending topped the UW system's cost.

The effects of having a state which incarcerates so many people (1 in 8 African American men will spend time in a Wisconsin prison or jail) are also felt at the employment level, creating a lot of people with prison records on job applications making harder (if not impossible) to gain good employment.

Wisconsin also now shares the distinction of being the worst state to raise black children - seriously, that's the headline - we rank 50th in black student achievement in the country. Got that? If you are a black kid, particularly a black male, you live in a state where you have the worst educational disadvantage, are most likely to be locked up and then get to struggle to find employment which ranks 35th in the nation for job creation.

Good fucking luck.

If you are a taxpayer, the majority of your money goes to schools (worst achievement for black kids in U.S.), health care (most people kicked off Medicare in U.S.) and prisons (most black men incarcerated in U.S. and twice the prison population than Minnesota) in that order.

Still think it's working?