By Nyesha Stone
We all know our state fails in lot of areas, and the ones we do succeed in aren’t usually ones worth bragging about. As the most segregated city in the country—according to a recent study by the Brookings Institution—Wisconsin is also surpassing the country when it comes to the number of probations and parole, according to a new report.
The Columbia University’s Justice Lab just released a new report, “The Wisconsin Community Corrections Story,” which found that Wisconsin’s parole supervision rate is 1.5 times higher than the national average, ranking us the seventh nationally and first among our neighboring states.
Although we have high rates of incarceration, what most of the public doesn’t know is that the increase in prison growth isn’t because of an increase in crime. Researchers discovered through the study, that most individuals on probation or parole go back to jail or prison not because of a new crime but because of breaking a regulation, such as missing a meeting with their parole officer.
According to the report, in 2017, 30 percent of those admitted into Wisconsin prisons committed a new crime, but 37 percent admitted were because of revocation. This means, tax payers’ dollars are paying for prison and jails to hold inmates who literally didn’t even commit a new crime, or any crime for that matter.
One in eight Black men, and one in eleven Native American men, are under community corrections supervision in Wisconsin, which is five and four times the rate of white men, according to the report. The report doesn’t have any data for the Latinx community.
Co-Director of Columbia University’s Justice Lab, Vincent Schiraldi said supervision drives mass incarceration. There are 18 regulations called “Wisconsin Standard Rules of Supervision” that those on parole and probation must abide by or they could be in risk of a parole hold. These holds do not require judicial review or approval and are allowed to hold someone in jail for up to 21 business days, and that period can be extended with approval. In simpler terms, an individual can sit in jail by just forgetting to tell their PO their whereabouts.
These regulations treat those under supervision like children. Number 11 of the regulation states: the individual must “obtain approval from your agent prior to borrowing money or purchasing on credit.”
The list of regulations goes on.
The entire point of this report is to show that Wisconsin needs major prison and jail reform. The report suggests reducing probation and parole, provide incentives for parole officers to cut sentencing and to reallocate the saved funds from reducing probation and parole into communities with high incarceration rates.
To read the full report, visit https://justicelab.columbia.edu/wisconsin-community-corrections-story.