The JOSHUA Prison Reform Task Force also known as 11×15 has continued to challenge the brokenness in our correction system locally and across Wisconsin. We are driven by faith-filled values of the human dignity and worth of all people in and outside our correctional facilities. We speak for the practices of forgiveness and reconciliation. Also, for avenues of restoration for former offenders to healthy and productive lives.
As one of 12 affiliates of the state wide WISDOM network we are strengthened and encouraged by prison reform work throughout the state. Our committee has joined in statewide gatherings in Madison to speak with legislators, participate in prayer services, and press conferences.
Our Local Work Includes…
Educational Presentations – We have brought the message of needed reforms to congregations and civic groups. A big part of our message is the call for Treatment Alternatives and Diversions. These are programs that provide an alternative to jail or prison. We are proud to have four Treatment Courts in Brown County (Drug, Heroin, Veterans and Mental Health). However expansion of these courts and additional courts are needed locally and throughout the state. Treatment Alternatives are more effective in offering restoration to non-violent offenders, decrease the rate of recidivism, and bring cost savings to tax payers. We have also worked to bring awareness regarding unjust sentencing practices that are unfair for those of low income and for minorities. Wisconsin remains the number one state in the nation for incarceration of African American men and Native Americans.
Solitary Confinement – Our group became aware of the abuse of solitary confinement in Wisconsin’s incarceration system. Solitary confinement, also known as segregation, is considered torture by the United Nations when used over 15 days. However, in Wisconsin people are regularly held in solitary for months and years. In September we hosted a replica solitary confinement cell for a week at West Side Moravian Church. The larger community was invited to tour the cell. In addition we held a Prison Reform Forum, Mental Health Forum and Legislator & Civic Leader Breakfast. Powerful testimonies were shared from people who had loved ones living through time in solitary confinement and those who had experienced this situation themselves. We garnered great press coverage and helped to raise the need for reform of this practice.
Beyond 11×15…R.O.C Wisconsin
JOSHUA along with WISDOM embarked on the 11×15 campaign to reduce the prison population by 11,000 by 2015. Though strides were made in this direction the work is not done. As the 11×15 campaign progressed we learned about other areas of justice work. We will join with WISDOM to continue this work with the ROC (Restoring Our Communities) campaign.
The four principle aims of ROC Wisconsin are:
- For Wisconsin to invest in the programs and strategies that will end the racial and economic disparities that fuel mass incarceration
- For Wisconsin to reduce its prison population to 11,000, and to reduce the number of people on extended supervision.
- For Wisconsinites to view people who have been convicted of a crime as human beings, members of families, and assets to the community.
- For formerly incarcerated people to be restored to full participation in our communities, our economy and our civic life.
If you are interested in joining the Prison Reform Task Force we meet the fourth Thursday of every month from 5:30pm to 7pm at the West Side Moravian Church
You can contact us for more information at: