It's Time to Close Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF)!
Conditions at Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF) are out of step with Wisconsin values. Not only have conditions at the prison been deplorable for years, but the very notion of locking up people struggling with parole and mental health issues is at odds with common sense approaches to justice.
In 2015, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said that “incarcerating people for relatively low offenses is not a significant issue in the state of Wisconsin”. Actually, it is a huge problem.
It is time for Walker to face the fact that crimeless revocation – the practice of re-incarcerating people on probation, parole, and extended supervision for minor rule violations – is more than significant. It is a failed policy, a waste of money, and an embarrassment to Wisconsin.
A new Health Impact Assessment demonstrates that Wisconsin incarcerated 3,000 people for crimeless revocations in 2015. You can read this report at sentback.org.
In 2001, the state of Wisconsin built MSDF to house people who have allegedly violated rules of probation, parole, and extended supervision. The state uses this facility to unnecessarily incarcerate thousands of people who have not been convicted of new crimes.
In the last 16 years, thousands of individuals, convicted of no new crime, have been re-incarcerated at MSDF—over sixty percent of them black men. This practice of crimeless revocations exacerbates racial inequities in Milwaukee and Wisconsin, and the inhumane conditions at MSDF violate basic human rights and defy our notions of justice and freedom.
James Wilborn, who was an EXPO leader, died in Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility during the summer of 2015. The extreme heat at MSDF was a factor in his death, as was his inability to obtain medications that he needed there. He should have never been incarcerated there.
Several other people have died in this facility in recent years because their medical or psychiatric conditions were improperly monitored or left untreated.
Problems facing people incarcerated at MSDF include extreme heat, poor ventilation, no access to outdoor recreation or sunlight, being locked down for 22 hours a day, no in-person visits, and other abuses. All of this is for people who have not been convicted of new crimes and in most cases have not even been charged with new crimes.
It is time for Governor Walker to close MSDF; reinvest the money saved to build safer, stronger, and healthier communities; and utilize more humane responses to people who allegedly violate rules of supervision!
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