From Failure to Freedom
Criminal Justice reform has been a critical quantifier of racial justice advancements in the United States. With cities around the country seeing an alarming rate of increases in their police budget, and a just as alarming rate of incarceration to match little advancement in racial justice has been achieved. A report released by The Center for Popular Democracy, Law for Black Lives, and the Black Youth Project 100 highlighted over the last 30 years, at both the national and local levels, governments have dramatically increased their spending on criminalization, policing, and mass incarceration while drastically cutting investments in basic infrastructure and slowing investment in social safety net programs.
In Wisconsin, we host the largest youth prison in America with the Lincoln Hills School for Boys and Cooper Lake School for Girls, both which have been found to have massive scandals including sexual abuse, physical abuse, and sexual abuse of the youth there. State of Wisconsin spends more than 30 million on youth prisons that ineffective and abusive, 61% of these youth return to adult prison within 3 years of release. States including California, Texas, Missouri, and New York City are stepping back from youth prisons, and investing those funds into alternatives Wisconsin still lags admit abuse scandals. In 2017, youth prisons are archaic and the model must be abandoned.
In Milwaukee, Wisconsin a frightening increase of police budget now equals more than 30% of the city budget at over 300 million dollars per year compared to just $285 million for schools which contains 45.8 million allocated for the Parental Choice Program. In addition to the City of Milwaukee police force, Milwaukee County Sheriffs also operate off a $55 million budget, and operate the house of corrections which takes up another 55 million.
Milwaukee approximately has 31 officers per ten thousand residents and 42 police employees per ten thousand residents, per a study done by governing.com. The national average for cities with populations over 500,000 is 30 police employees per ten thousand residents, and 24 officers per ten thousand residents. When ranked against other comparable sized cities, and large Midwest cities Milwaukee has the highest ratio of police per ten thousand residents.
The same criminalization ideology has sunk into our public school budget that allocated over $1 million in School Resource Officers and even more in other criminalization funds that go to criminalize students including school resource officers, metal detectors, security personnel, random locker checks, etc.
Thus, the need to launch a large scale campaign to Invest into Schools, Jobs, Healthcare, Transportation, Young People, and our communities and Divest from the criminalization, prisons, and systems that are not effective.
#1 Every child deserves to access to necessary treatment to mental health and other services prior to detention or incarceration
#2 Every student deserves a fully funded public school (Pre K through College) with the resources to meet all the needs of the student
#3 Every young person is deserving of unconditional love, and should be embraced with alternatives to negatively punitive life changing decisions
#4 The City and County of Milwaukee should invest more into social services and safety nets than policing and criminalization
Goal #1 - End the rail to Jail
Pass a school discipline reform with Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) that focuses on restorative practices over suspension and expulsions.
Milwaukee is one of the nation's leaders in the School-To-Prison-Pipeline, making national news for the incarcerate rates of black men and often being name the worst place for black people in the nation. We must act locally and address policies and systems that put Milwaukee's children in the pipeline, and act shiftly, carefully, and diligently to remove our children from the pipeline.
- 80% of students suspended are black, but black students make up 53% of MPS enrollment
- 87% of students expelled are black, but black students make up 53% of MPS enrollment
- Wisconsin leads the nation with 1 in 8 black males currently in prison
Goal #2 - REDISTRIBUTION of Policing funds
Reduce the Milwaukee Police Department and Milwaukee County Sheriffs budgets by 20% by 2020 and reinvest those funds into community based priorities and alternatives to violence prevention
While Milwaukee suffers from high rates of crime and violence, additional police have proven that policing is not that answer. We must address the root causes of crime, and view it with a public health lens, to understand the conditions that create these environments. While traditional rhetoric has been more police is the answer, LIT is will willing to be bold and loud for our call for alternatives to policing to address the conditions of crime like poverty, lack of jobs, and underfunded schools.
- 42 police employees per 10,000 residents ranks higher than Kansas City, Memphis, Detroit, Las Vegas, St. Paul, Columbus, and many more comparable cities
- $21.4 million in settlements, interest payments, and outside lawyer fees directly related to police misconduct since 2015
- A draft Department of Justice report highlighted 'damaged trust' between police and communities