WISDOM 11×15 Campaign to Call on Governor Walker to Review Unjust Treatment of “Old Law” Prisoners

Join members of WISDOM and MOSES on the steps of Grace Episcopal Church on the  square at 1pm on Tuesday, December 17. The group will head to the Governors office to raise this issue.  Read on for the press release: 

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of prisoners in Wisconsin’s state prison system are being held far beyond the time their sentencing judge envisioned.  Nearly all people sentenced to prison before the advent of “Truth In Sentencing” on January 1, 2000 are eligible for parole.  But, parole is now only rarely granted.  Many who have been in prison for fifteen, twenty, or more years have done everything possible to comply with the conditions for their release, yet have encountered a system that makes their release impossible.


The WISDOM 11×15 Campaign
will hold a rally and press event
 December 17, at 1:00 pm at
Grace Episcopal Church
116 W. Washington Ave, Madison.


Immediately following the rally, the group will proceed to the Governor’s office to call on him to direct the Department of Corrections and the Parole Commission to enforce the law as it was intended when these men and women were sentenced.  They will further call upon him to launch an investigation and provide a public report about how many people eligible for parole are in the state prison system, and what the prospects are for their earned release.

The rally will include statements by family members of prisoners who have been caught in the bureaucratic nightmare.  Others will address the issue from the perspective of the faith community, and community safety.

“We are still not even sure of how many inmates, sentenced under the “Old Law” are eligible for parole.  Every one of them deserves at least a chance to comply with the plans drawn up by the parole board,” says WISDOM President Sandy Milligan.  “As a faith community, we will not accept that human beings can just be forgotten and lost in the maze of a bureaucracy.  As citizens, we expect our government institutions, including the prison system, to be accountable and to be transparent about their plans for these men and women”

“Many of these are people who have already spent more than half their lives in prison.  When the judge sentenced them, she or he assumed that if they worked hard in prison to straighten their lives out, they would get a chance to earn their release.  A lot of them have kept their end of the bargain, yet they are being held in prison because of politics and bureaucratic bungling, and it is costing taxpayers millions of dollars each year,” says Rev. Jerry Hancock of the Madison-based Prison Ministry Project.

Rev. Joe Ellwanger of Milwaukee sees it as a waste.  “We’re wasting money and we’re wasting lives.  It’s inhumane to keep some people year after year, long after any useful purpose is served by their incarceration, and when there is no legal reason to keep them.  To add injury to insult, Wisconsin taxpayers are paying $30,000 to $40,000 for each of them every year.  Imagine if we put that money to good use!”

For further information, or to arrange to interview WISDOM leaders and/or family members of “old law” prisoners, please contact David Liners at 414-736-2099, or atdavid.liners1@gmail.com. 

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 “11×15 Campaign for Safer, Healthier Communities.”  The 11×15 Campaign 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 see www.prayforjusticeinwi.org.

Attached is the statement 11×15 leaders intend to deliver to Governor Walker on December 17.

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