Special reports: When inmates return to society

Posted at 2:30 p.m. on March 20, 2019

By Ed Byrne

The Brillion News

Part 1 of 3

MADISON – In 1865 after the end of the Civil War, the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed. Although most people think it ended slavery, it did not.

The amendment, in fact, legalized slavery and involuntary servitude – working against one’s will – if a person was convicted of a crime.

That was one of the points made during a conference held at the UW-Madison on March 7, hosted by former Governor Tommy G. Thompson and his legacy, the Thompson Center on Public leadership.

The conference was on “Second Chances and Prisoner Re-entry in Wisconsin.”

The problem behind the conference shows up in two statistics: Wisconsin has one of the highest incarceration rates in the U.S., and 95 percent of all state prison inmates end up going back into the community.

Thompson also praised the selection of former Milwaukee County sheriff’s deputy and U.S. Marshal Kevin Carr as the new Secretary of the Department of Corrections (DOC).

Incarceration

Carr said his career in law enforcement taught him what doesn’t work in straightening out offenders.

He said he will reform the mission of the DOC without decreasing public safety.

“Every person we can keep from re-offending and going back to prison keeps us safer and it saves taxpayers money,” Carr said. “I believe we lock up too many people, for too long, at too high a cost to the taxpayers, with too little to show in the way of results.”

Second chance proposal

Four students from the University of Wisconsin’s LaFollette School of Public Affairs gave a presentation on a proposal for a Second Chance Skills Institute (SCSI).

It is proposed as a trial balloon, turning the Racine Youth Offender Correctional Institute into a facility that prepares young inmates for the workforce through remedial education and vocational training.

The program would include substance abuse treatment, cognitive behavior therapy, and career and technical education.

This series is an exclusive product of The Brillion News. The second installment, in the March 28 paper, looks at whether prisons actually make inmates more dangerous than alternative programs. This on-line story is a condensed version of the full story.

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