Freedom’s Cause # 5 – Nov. 25, 2019


Milwaukee IWOC and the local chapter of Black and Pink shared a table at the Alternative Gift Fair on November 24 at the First Plymouth Congregational Church. The fair included zines, artworks, and gifts from David Hehn, our artist and penpal on the inside. 


IWOC’s contacts in Columbia Correctional Institution reported last week that the lockdown there was continuing indefinitely, and that visitations to the prison would not be restored until Monday, November 25, at the earliest. Since the persons considered responsible for attacking a guard had been transferred, it was not clear what purpose was being served by the ongoing lockdown.   


On Wednesday, November 20, Milwaukee IWOC conducted a phone zap in support of nine people currently incarcerated in Prairie du Chien CI. One person reports that he has been facing harassment from guards since he and others filed a lawsuit citing health hazards in the prison, including asbestos and black mold. The suit was dismissed without prejudice in October, and has since been refiled. 

Meanwhile, IWOC conducted a mass mailing to persons in PDCI to inform them of the suit and ask for information about health problems there. 


On November 20, Trans Day of Remembrance, a phone zap was conducted on behalf of Strawberry Hampton and Star Chambers, who are being isolated and segregated at the DuPage county jail in Illinois. They have been placed alone on a separate block for trans people. This is a violation of federal legislation prohibiting such practices. (Source: Campaign to Fight Toxic Prisons)

Governor Tony Evers continues to disappoint. On November 20, he signed Assembly Bill 426, which makes it a felony to trespass or damage oil or gas pipelines in Wisconsin. Evers signed the measure despite complaints from opponents that it would violate free speech rights and disproportionately affect American Indians whose lands are often affected by pipeline projects. ‘We are deeply disappointed by Governor Evers’ decision to sign this harmful and unnecessary legislation.’ said Chris Ott, ACLU of Wisconsin executive director. ‘The ACLU of Wisconsin will closely monitor the enforcement of this law and oppose any attempts to infringe on the freedom of speech or criminalize people for making their voices heard.’ (Sources: WBAY-TV, ACLU of Wisconsin)

Americans have shelled out a staggering $4.12 billion to incarcerate innocent men and women since 1989, according to a Yahoo Finance analysis. That’s largely money spent on trials and the cost of housing in prison. According to the Bureau of Prisons, in the fiscal year 2017, the average cost to house an incarcerated person was over $36,000 a year in federal facilities. But black men make up the majority of those wrongfully convicted — approximately 49%. And since 1989, taxpayers have wasted $944 million to incarcerate black men and women that were later found to be innocent. That number climbs to $1.2 billion when including Hispanic men and women. In 2019 alone, American taxpayers shelled out nearly $79 million for a combined 105 people who were exonerated this year. (Source: Yahoo Finance)