Official Government Communication

Dear Friend,

Welcome to my email newsletter. There is a lot happening at the State Capitol and it is my hope that this email will help you stay in touch with your government. As your Senator, I truly believe in public service. If there is anything my office can do to assist you, please feel free to contact us.

Here to serve,

      

Sen. Lena Taylor

4th District

Governor Walker notified of concerns at Lincoln Hills a year ago

The terrible events at Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake juvenile detention centers continue to unfold. In the face of such allegations as child abuse, sexual assault, neglect, physical abuse, witness intimidation, tampering with public records, strangulation and suffocation--among other violations--questions come up. If this can happen at these facilities what’s happening at other facilities? What role did Governor Walker’s union busting efforts play in the high turnover of guards, creating problems of short staffing and a lack of training? Could some of this have been prevented had Governor Walker not taken away prison guards’ ability to negotiate over workplace safety items such as body cameras, surveillance cameras and improved staffing?

As it turns out, there’s another question we should be asking too: Why didn’t he do anything? This morning, breaking news revealed that records show Governor Walker’s office was notified a full year ago about the concerns at Lincoln Hills. It was not until the recent Thanksgiving weekend incident in which a staff member slammed a door on an inmate’s foot and mangled it so badly the child’s toes had to be amputated that Walker ordered the Department of Corrections to "take the most aggressive action possible” to ensure safety at the prison.

I believe Governor Walker’s inaction in the face of allegations of abuse is inexcusable. In 2009, when I became the first African American to chair the Senate Judiciary Committee, I took the entire committee on a statewide “State of the Justice System Tour” that visited correctional facilities and communities all over the state. On Wednesday, Senator Fred Risser (D-Madison) and I continued our service to everyone at these facilities by calling for the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee to hold a public hearing about the safety at all our state’s facilities. Unfortunately, the chairman of that committee refused to hold a public hearing while the investigation into Lincoln Hills is ongoing. I will not be stopped in my efforts to ensure these children, and adult corrections workers, are safe. I will continue my conversations with the Department of Corrections and am currently exploring other ways to ensure safety at our correctional facilities. In fact, this morning I had a phone call with the Secretary of the Department of Corrections. I'm happy to report that I will be traveling up to Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake to meet with the kids there as part of a listening session. After all, they have an important voice in telling us what they need the most. Additionally, I am already working on several other items, including:

  1. Coordinating additional rides to Irma, Wisconsin from Milwaukee so the Milwaukee kids can stay connected to their families.
  2. Additional transfers back to Milwaukee to bring more of our kids back to our community where they have a family support system.
  3. Changes within the Department of Corrections including an improved inmate complaint process, body cameras for workers, surveillance cameras to keep residents safe when workers aren't present and additional staff, training, and crisis counselors at the facilities.

These children need our love and faith, if you have concerns please share them with me and the other Senators on the Senate Judiciary Committee. For more information about the events at Lincoln Hills see the Taylor Talk on my YouTube channel, my guest column, and this article from Madison.com.

 

Truth in Corrections Budgeting act

Today, along with the other three democrats on the state budget committee, I circulated the Truth in Corrections Budgeting act. The act would require all bills that carry a criminal penalty to include a fiscal estimate prior to passage. The “lock them up and throw away the key tough on crime" approach isn’t working and we need to turn to practices based on proven data-driven strategies. Minnesota requires fiscal impact statements on their criminal penalty bills and has incarcerated half as many people as Wisconsin. Passing million dollar corrections laws without knowing their price tags is a ten cent idea. The Truth in Corrections Budgeting act is the first step to more responsible, informed legislation in corrections.

Check out my Taylor Talk on fiscal estimates for more information!

 

Senate Scholars Program seeking applicants!

The Wisconsin State Senate offers a unique educational experience for high school juniors and seniors, and I want to make sure you know about it. The Senate Scholar Program is an elite program designed to challenge Wisconsin’s best students. One student from each of the 33 Senate Districts participates in the week-long program in Madison. Senate scholars’ days are spent learning about, discussing and eventually participating in the state government. Scholars have the opportunity to staff the Senate floor during an actual legislative session and witness the Senate debate on legislation! While daytime curriculum is rigorous, there’s time for fun at night with things like movies, bowling, games and sporting or cultural events. Applications for this incredible opportunity are due by January 3, 2016 so I encourage you to apply right away if you, or a high school student you know, is interested! Click here to get started.

 

2nd Chance Act: Prioritizing re-entry and restorative justice

A group of five bills I have written that I call the “2nd Chance Act” is ready to be rolled out. These bills all deal with re-entry and restorative justice, which is an area of great concern for me. In an effort to keep you up-to-date on the latest news coming out of my office I’m going to give you a brief preview of these bills here.

<![if !supportLists]>·         ·     Revocation by Poverty: This bill would provide a safety net for parolees re-entering the workforce by removing the possibility of re-incarceration due to an inability to pay supervision or restitution fees.

<![if !supportLists]>·         ·     Restoring the right to vote unless incarcerated and serving time: Under this bill a person would only lose the right to vote while they are incarcerated. Many people with past convictions live within our communities, and they should be given the same rights as their fellow community members.

<![if !supportLists]>·         ·     Uniform Collateral Consequences of Convictions: This bill would require sentencing courts to inform an offender of the collateral consequences of their conviction such as the denial of government issued licenses or permits, ineligibility for public services and programs, and the elimination or impairment of civil rights. Additionally letting them know about ways to obtain relief from these consequences.

  • The fourth and fifth bills in this package deal with the removal of certain information from the Consolidated Court Automation Program (CCAP). Under these bills information like pardons, dismissals, and verdicts of not guilty and innocent would be removed from CCAP as well as civil judgments older than eight years. The will remove barrier associate with making such information public, without sacrificing public safety.

 

 

 

 

Stay in touch:

     Email: Sen.Taylor@legis.wi.gov

    Milwaukee:  414-342-7176

    Madison:     608-266-5810

 

   

   

Community Events:

Photos with Santa! Sunday Decemeber 20th, 11:00am. Cat or dog food and monetary donations accepted for photos with Santa in a fundraiser to benefit the Wisconsin Humane Society! More info here.

Family Winter Weekend: Holiday and winter fun for the whole family at Discovery World! Saturday December 19th and Sunday December 29th. More info here.

 

 

 Video of the Week:

 Click the YouTube logo for holiday greetings from Sen. Taylor!

This is an official government communication from Sen. Lena C. Taylor. If you no longer wish to receive these emails, click here to send me an email to unsubscribe.