Four Lakes Greens: Take action against expanding mass incarceration in Dane County!

From the Four Lakes Green Party:

The Dane County Board is voting tonight on a resolution that would massively expand spending on the already-bloated Dane County Jail expansion project - a huge investment in mass incarceration that belies county officials' talk about seeking meaningful alternatives to mass incarceration.

Please read the below message from our friends in the Decarcerate Dane coalition, and take action against expanding mass incarceration in our community before 6:25pm tonight!

$24 million more for an already-too-expensive jail is back on the council agenda this week. Join us in saying CARE, NOT CAGES! 

Register by 6:25pm on Thursday 3/3 to OPPOSE item K1

Send written comment to: [email protected]

County Board agenda Thursday, March 3, 2022  7:00 PM

Item K1. 2021 RES-320

Doolan's substitute that has been added


What you can do beyond registering in opposition:

If you have a supervisor who is on the fence about spending more money on the jail, please reach out to them individually and chat with them!

Or you can join us in speaking to oppose RES-320 and its substitute. The substitute is essentially the same $24 million resolution that the "shovels in the ground" caucus brought to the council last time, but with some bogus reports tacked on that do nothing.

Here are some talking points.

  • If you want to keep it short:

    • We should close floors 6 and 7 of CCB as soon as possible with a better plan to decarcerate, not waiting years to build a giant tower

    • We can close those floors faster than building more cages

    • Criminal punishment system could do the work to get 250 people out now

    • We could abolish cash bail, slicing the jail population just from that

    • There are existing reports with more alternatives to incarceration, like 2015 RES-556, that we could actually implement

  • RES-320 is a failure and the proposed substitute is no different

    • You have to give reports teeth; RES-320 with pointless reports is pointless

    • Building a giant tower, the most expensive project in county history, AND THEN doing these reports for other options is the just wrong way around

    • There's still no actual architectural plan past the 60% mark? [may have changed by Thursday]

    • Still no other options proposed that are cheaper? [won't likely change]

  • 2015 RES-556 should actually be addressed, in a substantial and real way

    • For those leaving the board, what is your legacy? Shinier cages?

    • We could do all this good work Dane County has committed to but hasn't followed through on

    • CJC and subcommittees have been brainstorming good related ideas, from Feb 24 CJC

      • Judge MacNamara talks about how necessary weekend court is, that was a recommendation made in 2015 by RES-556.

      • Sheriff doing MAD program as of April 1, medications recovery treatment program, sounds good maybe?

      • Sheriff wants only citations for nonviolent and low level misdemeanors

      • DA said that numbers are not inflated by COVID much, wants to see restoration court brought back, and is "hopeful to lessen the population"

      • Judges said they can issue citations by email, so then you don't need to be in court theoretically, you certainly shouldn't have to sit in jail

      • Chair Eicher highlighted what Dane County has been doing to keep people safe while diverting people

  • For the fiscal conservatives:

    • County exec said to come back in budget, and you said "no"

    • After debt service, this will cost maybe $250 million with interest

    • We don't have to pick the priciest option, at the very least we need cheaper options to close floors 6 and 7 of CCB so we can invest more money in actually helping people instead of cages

  • Responses to the "shovels in the ground" caucus

    • They claim no new ideas - but they just haven't been listening to ideas like abolishing cash bail.

    • You have been trying to do this for years, just get a shovel in the ground. 50 million more? Just get a shovel in the ground. 24 million more? Just get a shovel in the ground. When does it stop?

    • If you have a junker of a car, you don't put more and more of your money in that car.

    • You don't put gas in a vehicle with a gas leak, knowing how toxic the gas can be.

    • You're betting against yourselves and the other programs you're investing in

    • Chair Miles on Finance has said "This is only 60% planned", but a 100% completed plan that's wasteful and harmful is just as bad as a 60% half-imaginary plan

Mini-update: another substitute resolution for RES-320 has been posted.
Chair Eicher says in an email to the county board:

At the last meeting Resolution 320 was postponed because there was a willingness to discuss a compromise substitute resolution. This sub adds funding given inflationary pressures and specifies a smaller 6 story tower and the building of no more than 825 beds. The Ferris Center would remain open for the time being, but work will continue to change Dane County’s approach to Huber. I believe this is a reasonable path forward and allows up to close the CCB facility and provide much-needed medical and mental health beds. 

You can view the substitute resolution here.

The previous talking points still apply, but you can add:

  • Introducing compromise resolutions with less than 48 hours doesn't help us citizens stay informed about the process
  • This new resolution says a lot of words about a "commitment to reform and to decreased incarceration", but spending this much money does not imply a real commitment to reform
  • Medical and mental health treatment should happen outside of the jail. Listen to the previous experts who have talked to the board about this, not the sheriff.
  • The money question:
    • We urge the council to actually require that the criminal punishment system fix its devastating biases before we give them any more money
    • Don't give them the money and expect the systems to change. We should require the systems to improve biases before investing in more cages.
  • Expanding electronic monitoring is bad for different reasons than the jail
    • We know it will be weaponized, intentionally or accidentally, against marginalized communities
    • Electronic monitoring is still a form of carceral control
  • There are good things lumped into this substitute, we should do them without building the tower:
    • Retaining a consultant to reduce the jail population
    • Bi-annual reporting as a routine
    • Reviewing those on technical violations without a new charge
    • Replacing Huber with a human services-based system


Thank you for taking action to support meaningful alternatives to mass incarceration in our community!

Peace and Solidarity,

Dave Schwab

Secretary, Four Lakes Green Party

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