WISDOM has launched the “Unlock the Vote” campaign to restore voting rights to people when they return from incarceration. Incarcerated people never lose the right to vote in states like Vermont and Maine: that should be the case here as well!

A huge majority of those formerly incarcerated are people of color. Why do we want people to vote?
• Voting helps people feel a sense of ownership over their community, helping to reduce recidivism.
• People on probation and parole pay taxes and live within our communities and therefore should have a say in how those communities operate.
• Voting is part of democracy, and a true democracy includes all of its people.

Watch for information on local events that WISDOM and EXPO are planning around the area to promote the Unlock the Vote campaign. You can find more information at www.wisdomwisconsin.org

The Joint Finance Committee (JFC) has introduced at least two measures into the proposed state budget that need to be watched because they provide a little bit of funding “in anticipation” of projects down the road. Once we’ve spent money on a “study”, it creates a rationale for going forward with a questionable project.

One such measure is $5 million that has been slipped into the Capital Budget to purchase land and to make improvements in anticipation of a new prison to be built in Brown County. This is an expenditure that neither the Governor nor the Department of Corrections requested; it is a terrible idea.
WISDOM agrees with those who say we should have a goal of closing the Green Bay Correctional Institution (GBCI) within the next 4 or 5 years, and sooner if possible. If the state follows through on supporting a renewed Parole Commission, on looking for ways to reduce crimeless revocations, and on increasing investment in Treatment Alternatives and Diversions (TAD), the prison population will be reduced sufficiently so that there will be no need to replace GBCI.

The second such measure in the budget passed by JFC includes $20 million to keep alive/restart the I-94 East-West expansion that Gov. Walker canceled in 2017. Throughout the I-94 East-West project’s years-long public input process, thousands of Milwaukeeans and Wisconsinites urged decision-makers to reject this highway expansion. They called on the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to instead fix the Interstate without adding lanes and to invest in local road repairs and public transit alternatives.

An increasing number of Wisconsinites rely on public transportation to connect to work, school, the doctor’s office, and social activities in their communities. JFC made a significant cut to the public transit investment proposed in Governor Evers’ executive budget. They should shift the $20 million currently earmarked for expanding I-94 to make up for this cut.

For more information, contact Barbara Pfarr.