Faith groups rallied at the Capitol on Thursday, launching an effort to reduce the state’s prison population, and to increase support for alternatives to incarceration.
Members of WISDOM want the state to reduce the number of persons in prison and jail to 11,000 by 2015. “This would return our state to the numbers of those in prison in 1995,” said Reverend Marion Boyle, Vice-President of WISDOM, and pastor at Green Bay’s West Side Moravian Church. “This would make our state a safer and healthier place.”
AUDIO: Reverend Marion Boyle (1:15)
WISDOM members – Christian, Jewish and Muslim – are calling for a greater emphasis on, and much increased state financial support for Treatment, Alternatives and Diversions, or TAD. “We should not incarcerate and ostracize low-risk offenders,” said Othman Attah, an attorney representing Milwaukee’s Islamic community. “We should be showing that their errors are not, and should not be, an impediment to living healthy and fruitful and productive lives.”
Governor Scott Walker did not increase TAD funding in his budget proposal. According to WISDOM it has been at the same level for the past six years, despite evidence on the effectiveness of alternatives to incarceration.
“We are about lifting up our brothers and sisters, because we know that drugs are literally killing thousands of our young people, and destroying their lives,” said Dean Hying, Auxiliary Bishop of the Milwaukee Catholic Archdiocese.