The Coronavirus as seen through the eyes of our Insiders

See also   Part I   Part II  Part III   Part IV   Part V   Part VI   Part VII   Part VIII  Part X   Part XI  Part XII

Part IX: The time to implement large-scale Community Residential Confinement in Wisconsin is NOW

By Dylan 4/28 (Oregon Correctional Center, Oregon, WI)

Prisons all across Wisconsin are overcrowded; some people are waiting months to be transferred to lower security institutions after already working for years to be granted the opportunity from PRC. Being in prison during a crisis such as this is literally forcing all inmates to expose themselves to a virus that could kill them. No matter what precautions these prisons take, short of completely locking down and isolating the prisons by not allowing staff to leave and denying any kind of delivery, eventually the inmate population will be exposed, and the prisons are definitely not equipped for total medical isolation on the scale of which would be needed. So in a nutshell and in layman terms, inmates are screwed. But in truth, not all of them have to be.

The WCCS, the system of minimum work release centers in Wisconsin, are full of people who have proven that they can follow rules that are by far more rigorous, restrictive, and numerous than any form of environment found outside of prison. They are deemed to be so nonthreatening that they have been granted transfer to centers that do not even have a fence and are allowed to go to work in the community, some in workplaces that employ women, teenaged children, and people with mental disabilities (Opportunities factory in Fort Atkinson). But these people are still living under the same conditions as this rest of the DOC, sitting around and waiting to be exposed to this virus and possibly be lamed or even die. One would think that people in such a position could be sent home, without any real grumbling from anybody, because they are ALREADY productive members of society who were going to work and paying taxes while interacting with civilians on a daily basis. But no, they’re just as stuck as somebody sitting in a maximum-security prison. They’re not even leaving these centers that they could walk away from so easily. They are sitting like ducks in a pond and hoping, wishing, that some change will come about that will allow them to rejoin their loved ones. Well, that just may be possible.

Wisconsin Administrative Code 327 Community Residential Confinement (CRC) is a policy that was established in 1990 to allow minimum custody inmates to be released on electronic monitoring (EM). One of the requirements to receive it is that you need to be eligible for parole, but in 2000, under Truth in Sentencing (TIS), the term “parole” was abandoned in favor of the term “extended supervision” (ES). For twenty years, the Wisconsin DOC has been using the conflict of those two terms as a technical basis to deny people CRC. Because of one word being interpreted so literally, people are stuck in these centers, literally possibly waiting to die, when they could be at home on EM. Like I said, prisons all across Wisconsin are overcrowded; some people are waiting months to be transferred to lower security institutions, and the DOC is not utilizing the entirety of its resources in regards to housing.

In a state that’s so notorious for its love of incarceration as a means of financial gain, you would think that they would seize an opportunity to confine people in their own homes while charging them for the privilege. The bracelets needed for this program are there, and manufacture of more is easy and relatively inexpensive. The departments to run the EM system are there, already active, because Huber dorms all over the state are utilizing the same exact system (so why not the DOC??). Everything that is needed to implement CRC is right there in front of our faces, ready to go. The people currently stuck in these centers could go home and back to work and start paying EM fees, which would begin to make up for the current lack of revenue due to the fact that work release in the minimum custody centers has been indefinitely suspended, so the state is not receiving any money from charging inmates for room and board (RnB). Additionally, the state would no longer need to clothe, feed, educate, or house them and wouldn’t have to provide healthcare, dental care, psychiatric care, or medications. There is no overhead to confining individuals in their own homes.

Of course, there will be people, civilians and politicians, that will claim that releasing these people will pose a risk and a threat to the public, but I would ask them to consider this: here at OCC, there is no fence around the premises. If any one of these people wanted to, they could walk out and escape and would not even be missed for potentially hours. If the same people are on EM and decide to leave their assigned areas, law enforcement is IMMEDIATELY notified the very second that someone steps out of bounds or tampers with the equipment. With that in mind, wouldn’t the public be safer and more secure with these people at home on EM?

Let’s talk about financial issues for a moment. I am currently incarcerated at Oregon Correctional Center (OCC). On average, 80 of the 123 inmates housed here are going to work and paying $740 a month for room and board, totaling $59,200 monthly and $710,400 annually. (From here on, I use hypothetical numbers which I think are on the lowball end of estimation.) If CRC is implemented, this center could increase its roster to 300 inmates, with 180 of them on EM, and if they are charged $500 a month, that is $90,000 monthly, $1,080,000 annually, for a combined total of $1,790,400 annually, just from ONE of the centers. That’s 1.8 million that could go towards education, roads, healthcare, and the current pandemic.

On top of all of this, there’s the political standpoint to consider as well. One of the strongest running points of Governor Evers’ campaign was the desire to release 50% of the prison population, but he has done next to nothing in this matter, supposedly because of a lack of bipartisan cooperation. If CRC is implemented, he would be able to begin fulfilling his promise. More beds would open in the minimum centers, so more people from medium institutions could fill them, and people from the maximum security could fill those in mediums; thus, the issue of overcrowding is alleviated while the state collects millions of dollars in EM fees.

In summary, this policy is THERE; it is ACTIVE. All that needs to be addressed for it to work is for the requirement of parole eligibility to be changed, or even for the DOC to interpret the word “parole” in this context as simply a term that means “supervision.” If CRC is implemented, Evers gets to fulfill his promise by “releasing” inmates while still having them technically considered inmates, so he’s happy. The inmates get to go home on EM and are not forced to be exposed to a deadly and dangerous virus, so they’re happy. Millions of dollars in revenue will be generated, so everybody is happy about that. This would literally be a win for all parties involved, not to mention the fact that the state will no longer be liable for any deaths or damages accrued from any infections of the virus if these people are at home because, short of complete lockdown and isolation, there is no way to stop this virus from eventually reaching every inmate in the DOC, and when this virus infects them in the hundreds and the thousands, do you really think that they will receive the urgent care they will need or the ventilators that will keep them alive? As a man who witnessed firsthand a man die on the floor after requesting emergency medical attention, I am doubtful. Thousands of lives are at stake here. Is anyone going to do anything about it or not?

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    • #71964 Reply
      Adam S.

      Former WI DOC inmate here… RCI was my home for some time.

      People still need to serve their sentences regardless of whatever you believe the policy makers should do or should be doing. That requires the restrictions that are inherently in place to be in place; just because you think people should go home, does not mean they should. There is the phrase ‘in the interests of justice’…. think of the precedent set if we just opened up the doors and sent people home without having completed the incarceration portion of their legally mandated bifurcated sentence. The court would be flooded with sentence modifications and appeals based upon whatever happened during the pandemic.

      The people at the work camps are doing well because of the monitoring and the rules; the violation of an escape charge for crossing the perimeter is a lot more threatening than violating a house arrest order, and it is the threat of that punishment for escape that keeps these prisoners in the camps. Earning a less restrictive incarcerated setting is not synonymous with earning the right to negate the incarceration portion of your bifurcated sentence.

      Per the law, there is no parole eligibility for those sentenced after a certain year. Therefore, there is no active program to parole people or send them home early if they are sentenced under the current bifurcation scheme. The CRC program doesn’t exist due to the bifurcated sentence scheme being law. It is telling that those that commit crimes are wanting to ‘go home early’ under the guise of being protected by something that is not even affecting prisoners proportionately to the general population; the mere threat of infection is not compelling enough to eradicate victim’s rights and the need for those who commit crimes to serve their lawfully ordered sentences. It reeks of not taking responsibility and of not thinking the ramifications through, honestly. i’d argue that the short-sighted view point is what got most, if not all, people into prison in the first place.

    • #71977 Reply
      Dave C

      Regarding the previous comment. If someone truly is a former inmate and not a hater in disguise.. People should be aware of something called toxic shame. It’s where you hate yourself and define yourself by what you did…not who you are or your potential for positive change. That’s bad enough because it puts you at risk of reoffending. But to claim to represent the population of registered citizens is detrimental to our cause of seeking changes in the laws. For people to hear you basically say “yeah…we’re a threat to your community if you let us out any earlier..” I’m just astounded!

    • #71986 Reply
      Adam S.

      I don’t know about you, but I don’t hate myself for what I did; what I did was borne of a time and place that I make sure I can never go back to (active avoidance, my friend). However, that has nothing to do with victim’s rights and seeing justice done by way of the offender serving their legally mandated sentence. It has nothing to do with actual or percieved threat, and I never said anything to the effect – but everything to do with taking accountability for your actions… And THEN dealing with life after the fact. One thing is certain: you owe the person you victimized some sense of closure and justice. That generally takes the form of a legally mandated sentence for the crime committed. If you believe otherwise then you know not the ramifications of your actions as it pertains to your offense and are likely ripe for reoffense since you do not understand the impact on the victims of such offenses.

      For the record, my offense was Incest of a Child by a Step-Parent. I grabbed my then step-daughter’s rear end and it made her uncomfortable as all get-out. She told her mother, the police intervened and I ended up with some incarceration time. Am I upset? No… Prison was transformative for me in more ways than I can count, and at the unfortunate expense of my then-step-daughter’s comfortability, I have to say prison was the best thing that happened to me. However, I have to understand that any and all reprecussions I suffer or was to suffer was because of my actions – we do not interface with prisons and guards and police in these situations outside of our own spurring of the contact by some form of moral violation. In other words, I cannot be mad that I am supervised when I comitted a crime, and I cant be mad if I am in jail if I put myself there. Calling for release because of the potential for getting ill is no less than asking for compassion we didn’t give our victims… As an offender myself, who is very aware of the effects of sex crimes on victims, this is a position that the public at large will never support and that is detrimental to offenders and NARSOL. It simply cannot be supported.

    • #71999 Reply

      I’m not astounded as Dave is concerning your comments. I do however; wonder if you ever recall having done any Treatment Program of any kind. If you have, then you know something about: ‘Sexual Abuse Cycles’, as well as the terms, ‘Red Flags’, ‘Risk Environments’, and ‘Seemingly Unimportant Decisions’. The question of whether or not One Must Serve One’s Sentence isn’t the point at all. The point, is all about Humane Incarceration. All DOC’s Nationwide are supposed to ensure we as Inmates are ‘Reasonably Cared For’. The key word being: ‘Reasonably’! I see nothing Reasonable about ensuring that people Eligible for Correctional Privileges the state established, all of a sudden aren’t given that chance at all! What You Say, sounds very much like The Corrupt Politicians that engage in Back-Door-Dealing, when it comes to Human Beings-regardless of what they’ve done-being continually caged just for the mere sake of satisfying a Demonically Maniacal Desire to see these same people die! In almost every Institution I’m sure; people that have completed Mandated Correctional Treatment Programs like what we have had to, are supposed to have an Opportunity to be granted some kind of Custody Level Reduction. Now, does that mean for everyone? Of course not. Many of Us-for reasons you or I myself don’t and most likely will never know-will never get that opportunity. Does that mean they have to just die? Are you Advocating that and Nothing Else? Why do we hear over and again Phrases like ‘Social Distancing’ then? Because Close Proximity is what this virus needs to kill People. So I must come to the conclusion that you, are siding with The Corrupt Politicians, Back-Door-Dealing Policymakers, Media Moguls that want to ensure ‘We-Keep-Our-Ratings-High-To-Stay-In-Business’, and Today’s ‘Pharisees’, and finally The Vigilantes, that want All of us to simply die. Believe it or not, That includes even you too!
      Would you want any of Your Loved Ones, to suffer as many of those still-human-beings-first-and foremost, are suffering? Of Course Not! We still have to Monitor Ourselves long after Incarceration, Parole, Probation, and even all through Our Registry Required Time to ensure we don’t Reoffend ever again. Right?
      Well, that includes even you too! But, I keep forgetting. You, are on The Streets, so none of this means anything to you, anymore!
      Does it?

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