Like the rest of the country, Wisconsin is in need of prison reform. Specifically with the truth in sentencing law that was put into effect back in the year 2000. At this time the state was sentencing people to 50 and 60 years to be served in prison. So 19 years after this law the people sentenced to these outrageous numbers are still sitting in prison with no hope because no matter how well behaved they are there is no light and no incentive because they can only go home after their prison sentence is over. So the goal of the Department of Corrections is not to rehabilitate the incarcerated but instead the goal seems to be to warehouse its inmates.
Let’s use me as an example; In 2000 I was 17 years old. I was charged with attempted first degree intentional homicide as a party to the crime. In short, I was present when someone was shot. I was sentenced to 32 years in prison and 13 years of extended supervision. Since ive been in prison ive completely changed my life. Ive completed every group and program assigned to me and some that I wasn’t assigned to, but I still have to serve the remaining 14 years in prison that I was sentenced to. While I make no excuses for my involvement in the crime I took part in, what is the purpose of keeping s man like me incarcerated?
This is an example of why prison reform is needed in Wisconsin, so when he state is faced with a situation like the one I present there is an avenue for early release or even a sentence modification. Instead the court has continuously ruled that ” rehabilitation is not grounds for a sentence modification ” in Wisconsin. In my opinion, that’s exactly what should be grounds for a sentence modification.
In November, Tony Evers was elected as the governor and part of his platform for running was he extended to address the overcrowding in the prison system during his first term. Trust me when I say the entire state is waiting to see what will come of this because at this point there is no light at the end of the tunnel for someone like me who has been in prison since I was 17, and I’m now 36. I see myself being bitter and I don’t want to be that person but how should I feel after this experience?
As a society, we need to help those that commit crimes, and stop throwing our people in cages for decades. How is that helping?
Submitted by; Toni Toston#327273
New Lisbon Correctional Institution
P.O Box 4000
New Lisbon, Wisconsin 54950