Evers seeks $8.1 million for Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility improvements

Gov. Tony Evers is proposing to spend $8.1 million to improve heating and ventilation at the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), an indication that he won’t shut down the facility as its critics demand.

Heat index temperatures can hit more than 90 degrees in much of the 15-story building and 120 degrees in the kitchen, according to state budget documents.

The proposed project, which would be completed in 2023, would improve the situation, according to the Department of Corrections (DOC).

Mark Rice, an ex-MSDF inmate and an organizer of the Close MSDF campaign, called for more.

“A true people’s budget focused on racial equity, justice, and compassion must include a plan to divest from Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility and other prisons in Wisconsin and redirect resources to the neighborhoods in Milwaukee that have been the most harmed by incarceration,” said Rice, now lead national organizer for JustLeadershipUSA, a group working to reducing mass incarceration. Read more…

WJI is partnering with ACLU-Wisconsin, Legal Action of Wisconsin and the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee to provide information about how to navigate municipal courts if you are a defendant charged with an ordinance violation.

WJI and its partners also are developing a special WJI web page to help people figure out who to contact and where to go when they have municipal court dates in Milwaukee County. The Milwaukee County Municipal Courts page is here and is listed in the tabs at the top of the WJI website.

The new page includes an ACLU video on navigating municipal court and the partners’ Municipal Court “Know Your Rights” card. Funding for the card was provided by the Wisconsin Law Foundation.

WJI and its partners will add to the page as we get new or updated information and as municipalities improve the information they provide to the public.

Video narrator Emma Shakeshaft

Attorney Kori Ashley will be the guest speaker at the next Wisconsin Justice Initiative Salon. Ashley is the first lawyer the City of Milwaukee retained to represent indigent defendants in Milwaukee Municipal Court. Her position is new, needed, and funded for only a limited time. Join us to learn about this lawyer’s adventures in Milwaukee Municipal Court.

The Salon will be at noon on Wednesday, March 27, at Riverfront Pizzeria, 509 E. Erie St. A lunch buffet will be available. The buffet will include a pasta dish, pizza, salad, and garlic bread. Vegetarian options will be available. The cost of the buffet is $14. Please make your reservation by 5 p.m. Monday, March 25. (Sorry, no refunds for cancellations made after that time.)

Click here to reserve your seat!

The Milwaukee Bar Association is hosting two moderated community forums featuring the candidates running for the Wisconsin Supreme Court (Brian Hagedorn and Lisa Neubauer) and Milwaukee County Circuit Court Branch 40 (Andrew Jones and Danielle Shelton).
Attendees will have a chance to ask questions and become more informed on each candidate in preparation for the election. Both events are FREE and open to the general public. No RSVP necessary.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Judicial Forum
Tuesday, March 19 | Noon - 1:00 PM

Milwaukee County Circuit Court Branch 40 Judicial Forum
Thursday, March 21 | Noon - 1:00 PM

Both forums will be at the
Milwaukee Bar Association
747 North Broadway
Milwaukee, WI 53202

The election is April 2.

A judge erred when she did not hold a hearing to determine whether it was in the best interests of a child to terminate her father’s parental rights before doing so, the State Court of Appeals ruled this week.

District IV Court of Appeals Judge JoAnne F. Kloppenburg reversed Waupaca County Circuit Judge Vicki L. Clussman’s decision and sent the case back to circuit court so the hearing can be held.

The case is similar to one decided last month by the State Supreme Court, which ruled that the defense should have been allowed to present a case before a judge terminated parental rights.

In the appeals court case, the girl’s father was arrested on child pornography charges less than a week after the girl’s birth, Kloppenburg wrote in her decision. He eventually was convicted of nine counts of possession of child pornography and is serving an eight-year prison confinement and eight years of extended supervision. Read more…


Get your WJI buttons! Buttons are just $4 each, including shipping and handling! An even better deal – two buttons for $7! Get one of each! (Added bonus – just $3 each or two for $5 at WJI events.)

Wear the #FixtheForty button to let your friends and colleagues know you favor increasing the lowest-in-the-country $40 hourly rate paid to private lawyers appointed by the State Public Defender’s Office to represent indigent clients.

And “Legalize,” spelled with a capital cannabis “L” says it all – legalize medical and recreational marijuana and end the racially biased enforcement of cannabis possession laws.

Also available: WJI t-shirts. Support progressive justice in Wisconsin.

Order your buttons and t-shirts here.

This Week’s Recommended Reads

The New York Times: New York charges Paul Manafort with 16 crimes.

The Appeal: Woman faces life in prison for sharing drugs with another woman in jail.

Drug policy experts caution that harsher penalties do not save lives—in fact, the threat of more time in prison might increase the likelihood of a fatal overdose if family members, friends, or other users hesitate to call authorities. “There’s not evidence that ramping up criminal penalties in the form of drug-induced homicide laws creates a deterrent and prevents overdose deaths,” Lindsay LaSalle of the Drug Policy Alliance told The Appeal. “And criminalization adds up to a number of adverse impacts. It’s a deterrent to calling 911. People are not going to feel comfortable calling emergency medical services if they think they’re going to be on the hook for murder.”

Wisconsin Public Radio: We’re shocked! ICE exaggerated the criminal histories of immigrants it rounded up in Wisconsin.

The New York Times: The United States still separates migrant families.

The Washington Post: This really happened: Police searched the room of a Stage 4 cancer patient for marijuana.

Tennessean: A look at juvenile lifers in Tennessee.

New York University: “Dirty data” – data created from flawed, racially biased, and sometimes unlawful practices – can make discrimination in the justice system even worse.

The New Yorker: The U.S. Supreme Court is changing the status of religion in the United States.

The New York Times: Alex Kotlowitz’s new book, “An American Summer: Love and Death in Chicago, “ is a powerful indictment of a city and a nation that have failed to protect their most vulnerable residents, or to register the depth of their pain.

It is also a case study in the constraints of a purely narrative approach to the problems of inequality and social suffering. Kotlowitz aims to tell unforgettable stories about the afterlife of homicide, how it penetrates the minds, bodies and communities of those it touches. He succeeds. You are nauseated, outraged, haunted, sad. But when you put the book down you are paralyzed. You hear the president call for military intervention, the mayor for better schools, the pastor for church. You have no answers or explanations. You have no idea what to do.

The Washington Post: Paul Manafort’s 47-month sentence prompts (yet another) discussion of sentencing disparities.

NBC News: Customs and Border Protection has list of activists, lawyers, and journalists to question.

Marijuana Moment: John McCMeghan McCain says cannabis might have lengthened her father’s life.

Last edited by Courtney.   Page last modified on March 14, 2019

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