Freedom’s Cause # 7 – Dec. 23, 2019


An incarcerated person at Columbia Correctional Institution reported that recreation was restored on December 16. Recreation periods have been reduced, however, from six to three per week. In an earlier communication, he said that meals in the day room were being served to 22 persons at a time, rather than 44. The term for these post-lockdown restrictions is ‘modified movement’. Meanwhile, IWOC has been getting reports that  people at CCI have been denied access to medications on multiple occasions. This is consistent with information obtained through open records requests that there is a critical shortage of medical personnel, and that COs are handing out meds as a result.  


An incarcerated person at Oshkosh CI wrote this for the comrades in CCI: ‘I would like to add the sympathies of many of us here. We would like to tell everyone to remain vigilant in their course of action, also to remain faithful that a peaceable solution to their problems will happen. The DOC is notorious for the poor treatment of their charges. Knowing this take extra care of yourself both physically and mentally. Be sure to create and keep a paper trail, list and/or log any and all evidence. Know that we also know how the security guards react or fail to. We also understand that this is a continuing punishment, even though the Prison will put some kind of spin on it, saying it is for the protection of the inmates that the lockdown continue. Which we all know is a load of crap! However, remember that as long as the lockdown continues staff will have to work extra long and do all the prison jobs as well….Please remain positive. We here at OSCI will pray for you all.  


IWOC has received the following report: ‘After the first of the year DOC will cut institution pay again. I’m industry pay, so it won’t affect me. But I heard two different versions. One is that they are taking a dime from 3, 4, and 5 rates…The other version is…DOC will take 40% of 5 rates and drop them to 4’s….the remaining 5 rates would be cut by six cents. This should be interesting when this breaks.’ 


Milwaukee IWOC’s press release on the death of an incarcerated person at CCI got some traction in the local media. WORT radio in Madison ran a report quoting IWOC spokesman Jacob Glicklich and Kimberly Wolf, whose partner is incarcerated at CCI. ‘Incarcerated people are kept within cells; they tend to get food which is cold and generally of substandard quality,’ Glicklich told WORT. ’[The don’t have] access to rec—what programming exists—[or] showers. Regular phone access disappears, so during a time of increased stress [they] aren’t able to contact family.’ Ms. Wolf added that the lockdown had cut off all communication with her partner, who has been in CCI since 2014. (Source: WORT Madison)

In his inaugural address, Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said he will file an executive order this week restoring the voting rights of many formerly incarcerated persons who are currently disenfranchised under state law. Of the fifty states, only Kentucky and Iowa still deny the right to vote to anyone convicted of a felony. On Wednesday, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill to restore voting rights to more than 80,000 residents who are on probation or parole. (Sources: Lexington Herald Leader; ABC News) 

IWOC was featured in an article in Teen Vogue (yes, you read that right). TV labor columnist Kim Kelly wrote a follow-up piece on the 2018 prison strike. Although the strikers’ 10 demands have still not been met, the strike raised awareness of the persistence of slavery in US prisons today. ‘We see that the lexicon around incarceration has expanded’, said an anonymous spokesperson for IWOC. ‘The prevalence of the NPS 10 Demands was key—showing that prison issues are not uniform, and are layered, complex, and vary by region and facility.’ (Source: Teen Vogue)

Milwaukee’s Fire and Police Commission (FPC) continues to be a source of controversy. On December 16, it was reported that FPC Executive Director Griselda Aldrete inaccurately described her teaching experience when she applied for the job. Since Aldrete took over the Commission in September, four employees have resigned and three others were fired. Meanwhile, little has been done to implement far-reaching, court-mandated reforms of stop-and-frisk practices by MPD. On December 18, the FPC extended the contract of Police Chief Alfonso Morales by a vote of 4-2-1, despite complaints from community members that they had not been given sufficient time for input. A majority on Milwaukee’s Common Council had urged the FPC to delay its vote on Morales.  (Sources: Urban Milwaukee, Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel)

A memorandum has just been published by the Northeastern University School of Law entitled ‘Treating Substance Use and Mental Health Disorders in Correctional Settings’. From the abstract: ‘…In the context of mass incarceration, correctional institutions act as the de-facto national substance use and mental health safety net. Correctional health efforts to address these health conditions often fall below the medically-accepted standards of care, however. Using opioid use disorder (OUD) as a case study, this Memorandum examines key barriers and facilitators in aligning treatment behind bars with the best available evidence. Each phase of involvement in the criminal legal system –from the point of crisis pre-arrest, through detention, and post-release – is an opportunity to address substance use disorder and mental health challenges.’ (Source: SSRN)