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Upcoming panel will explore how to reduce Wisconsin’s high incarceration rate

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

MEDIA CONTACT: Hilary Dickinson at dickinsonh@beloit.edu or 608-363-2849

The overpopulation of Wisconsin prison and jails will be the topic of an upcoming panel discussion on Wednesday, Feb. 26 from 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. in Wilson Theatre, Mayer Hall. “Incarceration Epidemic: Crisis in Wisconsin” is free and open to the public.

Wisconsin’s incarceration rate has grown dramatically in recent decades, resulting in exorbitant costs, according to WISDOM, a statewide network of faith-based community organizations. For instance, Wisconsin’s prison population has more than tripled since 1990, and the cost of corrections in the state has risen from under $200 million per year in 1990 to more than $1.3 billion in 2011.

WISDOM has subsequently started the 11x15 campaign that aims to cut Wisconsin’s prison population in half to 11,000 by the end of 2015.

The Feb. 26 forum will explore the current situation, highlight effective alternatives to incarceration (such as drug treatment courts, mental health courts, day report centers and universal screening) and introduce attendees to the political reforms they can advocate with elected representatives.

The panel will be moderated by David Liners, the director of WISDOM, and will include:

  • Regina Dunkin, member of the Rock County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council
  • Erick Williams, program manager for Community Action’s Transitional Jobs and Fatherhood Programs

The “Incarceration Epidemic” panel is co-sponsored by Beloit Better Together, a student interfaith group affiliated with the Beloit College Spiritual Life Program, and JOB (Justice Overcoming Borders), a local faith-based grassroots community organizing group affiliated with WISDOM.

WISDOM is a network of faith-based community organizations in the state of Wisconsin.  It includes more than 150 congregations of 19 different faith traditions. WISDOM leads the “11x15 Campaign for Safer, Healthier Communities,” which draws its name from its belief that Wisconsin could safely reduce its prison population by half–to 11,000–by the end of 2015. For more information, please visit www.prayforjusticeinwi.org. For more information, contact wisdomwi@sbcglobal.net or call 414-831-2070.