WISDOM and the 11×15 Campaign for Justice

Many faith communities, including Madison Friends Meeting, have joined with WISDOM through local chapters to work toward making our prison system more just and affordable. Learn more and find out how you can take part at

The 11×15 campaign aims to cut Wisconsin’s prison population to 11,000 (approximately in half) by the year 2015 by allocating funds to alternatives to incarceration.

Here is an excerpt from the WISDOM website:

We are not any safer. Our state’s incarceration rate has grown dramatically in recent decades. The system we now have is wasteful (we spend more than twice as much per year on Corrections as our neighbors in Minnesota, though we have similar populations), it is ineffective (our overuse of prisons and jails makes us less safe than we would be if we used more alternatives), and it is unfair (the racial disparities in Wisconsin’s prison system are among the worst in the nation).

Incarceration comes with a cost. We pay a huge human price for our overuse of incarceration. Families and communities have been destroyed. Costs have risen dramatically. The cost of Corrections in Wisconsin has risen from under $200 million per year in 1990 to more than $1.3 billion in 2011.

There are effective options. The good news is that alternatives to incarceration that are being proven effective every day in our state. Counties have established numerous programs: drug treatment courts, mental health courts, day report centers, universal screening, mental health courts, and more. We are learning, decisively and overwhelmingly, that alternatives to incarceration are effective by most any measure:

Alternatives to incarceration nearly all result in markedly lower recidivism rates. That is, offenders in alternative programs tend to be rehabilitated and not to re-offend, while incarcerated offenders are more likely to commit another offense upon release
Alternatives to incarceration are more likely to result in restoring the offender to health, especially those suffering from mental illness and/or addictions.
Alternatives to incarceration save taxpayers a great deal of money. Most save at least $2 for every dollar spent.