Wisconsin Is #3 state In the nation for reincarcerating people for violations of supervision

July 13, 2019

Loretta Kane (917-410-7242 or loretta@camino)pr.com
Mary Duerson (maryduerson@gmail.com)

Wisconsin Is #3 state In the nation for reincarcerating people for violations of supervision 

On second anniversary, #CLOSEmsdf Campaign demands elimination of crimeless revocation practices and immediate closure of the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility

MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin­ — On Saturday, July 13, 2019, directly impacted leaders, advocates, and partner organizations with the #CLOSEmsdf campaign held a day of action and remembrance to celebrate the second anniversary of the #CLOSEmsdf campaign. Advocates gathered at St. Ben’s Parish for a panel led by directly impacted leaders and then marched to the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility where they honored the 18 people that have died in the facility.  Following the march from St. Ben’s to MSDF, advocates proceeded to the Aurora Sinai Medical Center, where directly impacted community members shared their testimonies and rallied to demand that Governor Evers: 1) Stop incarcerating people for crimeless violations of supervision 2) Depopulate and close the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility 3) Reinvest the money wasted on MSDF and unnecessary supervision back into communities.

The #CLOSEmsdf campaign impacted public discourse about incarceration across the state, making the issue a major topic in last year’s governor’s race. While candidate Evers promised to end crimeless revocations and to close MSDF, Governor Evers has not acted on those promises. Two studies this year are particularly damning. A report released in January commissioned by JLUSA  found that MSDF – a facility built exclusively to incarcerate people who are already on supervision – imprisons white people 12 percentage points lower, and Black people 24 percentage points higher than the Wisconsin average, with disproportionate harm also experienced by Black and Native women. A June report from the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center shows that high supervision rates are causing rather than preventing longer incarceration and that Wisconsin has reached a crisis point – the state now has the third highest rate of reincarceration in the nation based on violations of supervision.

Key data from Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center:

  • According to The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center’s Confined and Costly data on probation and parole violations released in June, in Wisconsin, more than 1 in 3 people in prison on any given day are there for a supervision violation. The state has the third highest rate of imprisoning people for supervision violations, with 52% of the incarcerated population made up of people imprisoned for supervision violations.
  • CSG data also shows that Wisconsin has the third highest rate of imprisoning people on supervision, with 70% of prison admissions due to supervision violations.
  • Crimeless revocations – revocations that result from an alleged violation of an arbitrary, administrative condition of probation such as calling your supervisor – are the number one cause of incarceration in Wisconsin, accounting for 40 percent of new prison admissions, according to the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.
  • On any given day in Wisconsin, 12,327 people are incarcerated as a result of a supervision violation at an annual cost to taxpayers of $451 million. Technical supervision violations account for $197 million of this total amount, and new offense supervision violations make up $254 million. These figures do not account for the substantial local costs of keeping people in jail for supervision violations.


Key data from the Justice Lab at Columbia University

  • 1-in-8 Black men, and 1-in-11 Native American men, are under supervision.
  • Black women are supervised at 3 times the rate of white women.
  • Native American women are supervised at 6 times the rate of white women.

Partners made the following statements about ending the crisis:

We’ve learned in the last 16 years, thousands of individuals, convicted of no new crime, have been re-incarcerated at MSDF and over sixty percent of them Black men.  We stand together with partners of the #CLOSEmsdf Campaign to ensure MSDF is shut down permanently. We are excited to be a part of reimagining how divesting resources used to incarcerate people, specifically Black men,  and support and uphold white supremacy can be used to invest in the creation of culturally competent treatment centers, youth employment, and affordable quality housing. Unlike those in power, we are dismantling systems that harm and tear apart Black families to change the trajectory of communities to thrive and live at their greatest potential.

#LiberateMKE #FreedomToThrive

Markasa Tucker, Director of the African American Roundtable and Co-Founder of the Liberate MKE Campaign

“The Justice Project of Advancement Project’s National Offices stands in solidarity with the #CLOSEmsdf campaign. We join in imagining a world where safety is not defined by cages and oppressive supervision but by people with freedom of movement and the resources to build healthy, thriving communities. We continue in the fight to #CLOSEmsdf”

-Ashley Carter, Senior Staff Attorney


The #CLOSEmsdf Campaign is a ground up campaign led by those most impacted that has made no compromises. The relentless organizing and uncompromising approach of #CLOSEmsdf leaders has brought issues related to Wisconsin’s horrific, racist supervision system to the forefront of public discussion over the last two years. Wisconsin’s supervision system is out of step with our widely shared values of justice, fairness, and compassion. A new report by The Council of State Governments shows that Wisconsin detains people for alleged supervision violations at the third highest rate in the nation. MSDF (Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility) holds people accused of crimeless rule violations in excruciating conditions. 9 out of 10 people detained in MSDF have not been convicted of a new offense. Parole and probation reform in Wisconsin must start with depopulating and closing MSDF and redirecting resources saved to build communities and help people returning home from prison succeed. Candidate Evers promised to end incarceration for alleged conviction-less rule violations and increase access to reentry services. Governor Evers can depopulate and #CLOSEmsdf by directing the Department of Corrections to implement these common sense changes. Directly impacted leaders will hold him accountable.

-Mark Rice, #CLOSEmsdf Campaign Founder and JustLeadershipUSA Lead National Organizer

“In the last 2 years, #CLOSEmsdf has pulled the curtain back on Crimeless Revocation in the State of WI & has begun the important work of ending that practice, using the funds saved by not incarcerating people to expand programs and services needed to fully restore our returning citizens and ensure their success.”

-Jerome Dillard, EXPO (EX-incarcerated People Organizing) State Director

MSDF is an incubator of suffering, there have been 18 deaths and the conditions of confinement are cruel and unusual. We are talking about people, with real lives and families, this injustice must stop. MSDF is supposed to be a tool for accountability for the everyday man and woman, but are they above being held accountable themselves for the cruel and unusual punishment they have inflicted on thousands? We will stand in solidarity and help the victims of such a system fight back.

-Caliph Muab-El, President of #allofusornonewi

We believe that it’s time to dramatically reduce Wisconsin’s overreliance on incarceration and invest instead in alternatives to prison, including approaches designed to help people succeed in the community.  MSDF only exists because we are holding people while considering whether they should be revoked from supervision or providing some treatment that could be better accomplished while in the community. We have an obligation to better serve returning citizens. If we do this, there will be no need for MSDF to exist, and this will make our state safer.”

-Sean Wilson, ACLU Smart Justice Statewide Organizer

EXPO of Kenosha/Racine is committed to continuing the freedom partnership of JLUSA and the impacted people of Southeast WI.  Re-imagining how to successfully do community re-entry only happens when we equitably support the notion that it’s possible! When an Alternative-To-Revocation, or ATR, is inside of a prison; the purpose of a alternative-to-incarceration is thwarted, completely!  Society’s interests are not served when we continue to be national outliers in removing returning citizens from home through the process of “crimeless revocation!” People from all over the state are incarcerated “temporarily” in that place, and at great residual costs to the person and their community.  Therefore, the closing of the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility -MSDF- is in everyone’s interest!

-Carl Fields, EXPO of Kenosha/Racine Organizer

“We join with many groups advocating for closure of the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility and, in its place, the institution of community programs that connect people with conviction records to productive accountability and actual rehabilitation opportunities.”

-Peggy Creer, President, League of Women Voters of Milwaukee County

“The Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility needs to be depopulated and then closed. It’s an ineffective, dangerous place and Wisconsin must do better. “

Rev. David Kraemer, Waukesha United Unitarian Universalist Church

“Two years ago, CLOSEmsdf was seen by most people in the public arena as an unrealistic wish.  In the past two years, the campaign has shared studies and statistics as well as the real stories of impacted people.  Members of faith communities have heard. People visited by door-to-door canvassers have heard. Public officials have heard.  The media has heard. Today, we have Governor Evers responding to EXPO members that ‘it is just a matter of time.’ The first step in making a major change is for people to be able to imagine it.  Today, people know what MSDF is and they know it is wrong to treat human beings as they are treated there. They also know we can close it. The final step is to keep pressing those in power to act and do what we all know can be done.”

-David Liners, WISDOM State Director

“The Greater Milwaukee Green Party joined the #CLOSEmsdf coalition because social justice and non-violence are two of our four pillars, and we agree with the coalition that no person should lose his life or suffer human rights violations in our county.  The old saying ‘if you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime; is often invoked to dismiss prison issues, but it is a gross mischaracterization of the situation at MSDF. The prison is overcrowded, the residents report terrible conditions, solitary confinement is regularly used, the residents have no yard in which to experience sunlight, and these human rights violations have led to 18 deaths. None of the people who died had been given the death penalty; in fact most residents are people alleged to have technical parole violation who’s imprisonment is arbitrary.  Milwaukee deserves a justice system that treats all people fairly and humanely, and it is a shame that the governor has continued to fill the prison coffers despite his promises. The people who “did the time’ are eventually returned to our communities. They have not been rehabilitated, they have been made victims of torture and become the responsibility of their communities. MSDF is a shame for our whole community. This is why we demand this dungeon be shut down.”

-Barbara Dahlgren, Wisconsin Green Party Co-Chair

“Wisconsin spends more money on prisons than on education and incarcerates more Black men than any state in the country. Voces de la Frontera is part of the Close the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (#CLOSEmsdf) coalition as part of the broader movement to end mass incarceration in our country.  Closing MSDF and closing ICE concentration camps are part of the same fight against the criminalization of Black and Brown communities fueled since the 1980s by the growth of the prison industrial complex. Most people in MSDF are imprisoned there for nonviolent violations like marijuana possession, being unemployed, or being late to a meeting with a probation officer. Many need treatment or rehabilitation, not prison. The conditions in these prisons and camps amounts to torture. At MSDF the prison’s cells don’t have windows, and people imprisoned are not allowed outside for months or even years. Temperatures can reach over 100 degrees in the summer. At least 18 people have died in MSDF since 2001 because of bad conditions. MSDF must be closed, and the people imprisoned there should be free to rejoin their families and communities. We must divest from prisons and invest in health care, public education and creating good jobs.”

-Christine Neumann-Ortiz, Executive Director of Voces de la Frontera

“Peace Action of Wisconsin supports the efforts to shut down the Milwaukee Secure Detention facility. The prison-industrial complex is a part of the militarization of the US and enforces the inequality in government spending where over half of our tax money is spent by the Pentagon for war and on the nuclear weapons arsenal.”

-Pamela Richard

“Prison Action Milwaukee, Inc (PAM) was given a tour of MSDF in 2011. NO WINDOWS! Obviously it should have never been built! There are lots of sad stories I could tell you about our experience with the incarcerated people at that facility but I know you have plenty of your own.

We say tear it down! We support #CLOSEmsdf’s efforts and will work with coalition partners in a collaborative manner to accomplish this goal.”

-Rose Scott, Founder of Prison Action Milwaukee

Project RETURN is proud to support and partner with the #CLOSEmsdf Campaign. Working with men and women returning from incarceration, Project RETURN has seen firsthand the detrimental impact of mass incarceration, particularly on an individual’s livelihood, family and support network. The overuse of revocations for minor rules violations and detaining people at MSDF needs to change for the health of our community. #CLOSEmsdf is working towards this end and we stand in solidarity calling for a change to our criminal justice policies and an end to the use of MSDF.

-Wendel Hruska, Project RETURN Executive Director

Forum For Understanding Prisons (FFUP) remains committed to the demolition of MSDF. Going into the second year of our campaign, we celebrate the strong coalition, the progress and momentum we have built, but remember what we’ve known since the start: it could take years. The election of a Governor supposedly committed to closing the facility chrystalized our fight: Make Tony Evers keep his word. He has the power to change revocation policies, to reign in the community supervision officers who cycle thousands of Milwaukeeans through the MSDF torture gauntlet, to close the prison and demolish this symbol of white supremacy looming over downtown Milwaukee.

-Ben Turk, FFUP Organizer

I am not scared to go anywhere in Milwaukee. The only place I am scared to be in is in the Milwaukee Police custody. People dying in police custody, at the county jail, and MSDF. I pray to God that these Republicans and Democrats will support shutting down MSDF. Its like somebody die at MSDF every year and somebody is suffering from human right violations like everyday at MSDF. Yet and still this is an issue that has lacked support and progress from our elected officials that suppose to care about our community the most.

-Jafar Banda, Founder of Community Uprise


About #CLOSEmsdf: Led by WISDOM, EXPO (Ex-incarcerated People Organizing), IWOC (Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee), and JustLeadershipUSA, the campaign to close the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), #CLOSEmsdf, is a coalition of more than 50 organizations committed to ending crimeless revocations, closing MSDF, and reinvesting the money saved to build safer, stronger and healthier communities. MSDF is an irredeemable torture chamber. It represents how mass supervision fuels mass incarceration. It was built to warehouse people alleged to have violated rules of probation or parole – infractions like missing an appointment or being late for curfew. MSDF is taking lives and destroying communities. It must be shut down. Learn more at: CLOSEmsdf.org.


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