You can help convince your supervisor to avoid building a new jail by mailing a letter, sending an email, or speaking at a public board meeting, among other actions. Find your supervisor’s contact information and then copy, edit, and send one of the letters below as an easy step.
Dear [insert name of representative]:
I write to you in strong opposition to the proposed idea to expand or build a new jail in Dane County. The public money should be utilized to expand community programs and alternatives to incarceration, not to amplify the number of our community members who are behind bars and in cages.
An expansion or renovation of the jail could mean the elimination or further reduction of county support services for youth, elders, persons with disabilities and mental illness, and homeless populations in our county.
The Board of Supervisors has the opportunity to use the proposed funds to increase access to community-based restorative justice programs and support services for people in and outside of our jails that address the root of the problem. There is clear evidence that alternatives to incarceration save money and improve public safety in both the short and long term. People in and outside of the jail are in need of educational, physical and mental health services, substance abuse and treatment services, housing options, and life skills services that could be provided much more cheaply, effectively and comprehensively outside of jail. These are methods that provide services like counseling and development in an effort to help prevent the crime from occurring again. This could look like anger management, counseling, or food/housing assistance. The result is a slowly improving societal structure rather than the weight of an incarceration system.
The State of Wisconsin continues to increase funding to build prisons around the state. It’s time for Dane County to make a different choice. Making bold moves to stop jail expansion now means our community will have more resources to generate creative solutions that address the root of our community’s problems. I urge you to refuse jail expansion and renovation in Dane County.