Sunday, October 2, 2016

Rehabilitation by stagnation/ 6.45 for 80 hours work!!

Around the country there have been work stoppages by prisoners protesting the slavery their work conditions and pay. Here are two submissions by prisoners in Wisconsin on the Wisconsin system:
1)James Mercer-click to view:
2)Reo Covington (below)

By: Reo L. Covington-533457 OSCI;
PO Box 3310
Oshkosh, WI 54903
To all of my fellow, inmates, and to all supporters and friends and family of the F.F.U.P. (Forum for Understanding Prisons). Please be aware that the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, are now engaging in the blatant sabotage and whole­sale stagnation of our rehabilitative efforts and our successful re-entry into society as productive and changed citizens. Now, some of you are asking the questions. How and/or why would or could I say such a bold statement?
PLEASE PAY ATTENTION-ANSWERS COMING: On April 11, 2016, the Wisconsin legislature enacted, 2015 Wisconsin ALS ACT 355,
which became effective July 1, 2016. This implementation require that all restitution owed by an inmate be paid in full, prior
to paying any Victim/Witness or DNA surcharges or other court related costs. Inside this legislation the Wisconsin Dept. of Corrections is given the authority to change the court-ordered 25% deduction from an inmates prison wages to 50%(violating the Doctrine of Separation of Powers). This is done under language changes made to DAI Policy 309.45.02-Inmate Trust System Deductions. These changes have caused amendments to sections of 973 of Wisconsin Sentencing statutes, which now give the Wis. Dept. of Corrs., explicit authority to do the following:
a)  the authority to combine all inmate trust accounts(i.e.his/her release account + regular/accessible account, work release, etc.), and using this type of computation then deduct 50% of the previous months total, claiming it is for restitution owed victims for loss of property or damage done to their goods. This draconian act punishes the inmates more severely than the sentencing courts. At the same time this farce by the DOC punishes any person or group of persons who might try to assist an inmate (family, friends, non-profits). Because if an inmate, who receives $20 in a money order, owes any restitution, under this scheme $13 will automatically be deducted from the senders' money(gift, gratuity) and making it nearly impossible for an inmate to buy his own hygiene(deodorant,effective soap,lotion, shampoo, antifungal cream) writing materials;(tablets, pencils, pens, envelopes) and postage-$0.65/per embossed envelope. These items are not given to inmates in the WDOC prison system, regardless of what their publicists say in press releases.
b)   the unilateral authority to modify the order of the circuit court that sentenced the inmate, to pay 25% of the inmate's prison wages for restitution, surcharges and other related court costs, to now state in the language to deduct these obligations of the inmate's from all monies no matter what the source or nature of the monies(gifts, gratuities,etc).
I am not unempathetic to victims who have suffered losses due to crime, and I believe they should get the equity in law through reimbursement or restitution. And in theory that is a great plan. The sad truth, the gospel truth is that Act 355, guised under DAI Policy 309.45.02, is sabotaging the rehabilitative efforts of the inmates in Wisconsin. Taking the ability to establish a sound release account, taking the inmate's ability to purchase his or her hygiene items, writing materials and postage. Taking the thief who decided to work while in prison to train his or herself for employment in the community and saying to that person you can work but we are going to strip: you of every, piece of moral fiber to pay the restitution you owe. The armed robber who owes thousands and thousands, has no hope of saving his prison wages for the purchase of a type­writer or gym shoes due to the implementation of ACT 355, guised in DAI Policy 309.45.02. The statistics show that most inmates will re-offend within 2-3 years. The new changes forces him or her to remain in the same thinking patterns and behaviors (criminal thinking/behaviors)that brought them to prison just to survive from one day to the next in prison. Most of this leads to criminal activity even-in prison. Just to obtain basic hygiene needs or some extra food.
Once an inmate is released from prison he or she will have next to nothing and very little, if any money at all in the mandatorily deducted release account. The whole legislative intent of the release account was to give the inmates a leg up once released so they did not have to go back to the community starving or destitute. To assist him in the first days and weeks of re-entry with food, clothing and shelter, through his or her own means(i.e. release account). Not any longer.
At the current rate of deductions, I personally will be penniless in 28 months, upon my release, due to the fact, that, even if I did not have any institutional wages, these new changes allow the DOC to deduct funds from my release account(which is combined with my regular account) until I am destitute. This is sabotage and stagnation of my rehabilitation and re-entry efforts. The average inmate(one who owes no federal court fees, or obligations) but still owes restitution, victim/witness and or DNA surcharges and other court costs, is in dire straits under this draconian enactment(guised in DAI Policy 309.45.02).
             Admittedly some inmates do not owe  restitution and some may have managed to pay it off over the course of their lengthy incarcerations. I hope they are thankful. I, on the other hand, since my revocation on a 2002 case still owe restitution to First Federal bank( who by the way has not received one penny of the money deducted from me over the last 8 years) 3 separate filing fees in federal court and a mandatorily deducted 10% for a release account(that the Doc has already started to drain). I was recently placed into a work assignment that has a pay
range of $0.35/hr @ 80 hrs/2-wks= $ 28.00/2-wks and my deductions look like this at the end of 2 weeks:
$28.00 - institutional wages
- 5.60 - 20% federal filing fee

- 4.48 - 20% federal filing fee

    3.58- 20% federal appeal filing fee

- 7.17 - 50% restitution(First Federal bank-my victim)

                    .72- 10 % mandatory deduction (release account)

6.45 is what is left for me after 2 weeks of labor at the Oshkosh Correctional Institution, under the new scheme and policy changes enacted under ACT 355. Of course it was my own choice to file civil actions in the federal courts and I can only hope that you may remember that Brown v. Board of Education was a civil action under Section 1983 and it was cases like these that gave us minorities the right-to vote if we are not disenfranchised by the system. It also gave us the right to fair and equal housing and employment as well as the right to not be discriminated against for our ethnic or racial origins. My purpose in this revelation of information, is to put a face on the real enemy-the ones that are filling the prisons to overflowing, leaving thousands of families broken and torn often in irreparable conditions. The ones that you (John and Jane Citizen) never hear about, the Jon Litscher's of the DCC, the William Pollards of the DCC, the Judy Smiths and Paul Kempers of the DCC. These people all have the ears of our legislature who passed ACT 355, and they knew that the act itself was not important to you in the public and in response to all inquiries they have said it is to pay back the victims who suffered losses due to criminal activity. They have lied to us all. Malcolm X, once said something to the effect of "I have no respect nor can I ever have respect for a society that places a crushing weight on a man, but then punishes him for cracking under that weight". Prisons are for punishment and rehabilitation. But we (society) can not effectively combat the war on violence, crime and drugs by contributing to the problem. Our criminal thinking patterns were learned over years and embedded into our lifestyles. Now how can we get away from those thinking patterns and behaviors if the DOC is using mob-styled tactics to force us into recidivism? That's what these new changes are going to do to many inmates, some long before release will already be in prime crime thinking mode due to the actions of the DOC, under guise of ACT 355.

The real enemy in Wisconsin that is halting the reform of the criminal justice system are people who are making a living (making a killing) off of prison labor, prison industries and other prison programs that were intended to help the inmates and their communities upon the release of the inmates. They are, well most are, now nothing more than ways to scam the federal government and tax-payers out of more money to siphon off to cousin Ed who owns the electrical outlet down the road or to aunt betsy who owns all of those vending machines (the ones that dispense heroin) yeah, it is all a sham. Yet, as an inmate I must endure the price hikes of commissary every single year for the past 5 years and there has been no-increases to the inmate wages in nearly 15 yrs. and that was not an increase but it was ,a decrease, but the last effective change with any benefits to inmates. Now the combining of all inmate trust accounts, only to deduct the funds for restitution is a farce a sham. Most victims of a crime in this state never see a dime of restitution. Please pray to open your eyes and mouth to combat the inequalities that are being waged against the prisoners in the criminal justice system. Because if we do not say and do something now, the next crime an unrehabilitated offender commits may be against you or someone you love. Your voice and vote does matter. The DOC can take my release funds to pay restitution and court costs. But I am not allowed to use this money to purchase gym shoes(even though the DOC will not supply me any); I can not use these funds to purchase educational materials or legal books and dictionaries, nor to purchase gifts for my kids or grand-kids. That is not only draconian, but the whole implementation violates Article 1; Section 12 of the Wisconsin Constitution-(Ex Post
When I was a carnival game operator, we called what the DOC is doing, " Theft By Deception". Maybe my status as a prison inmate has me a little biased in my opinions. But facts, do not lie. So please do your research and see for yourself, that I have given you the Gospel Truth in this matter..The Doc will take 65% of an inmate's funds even if they come from friends and family trying to help him or her get through the rough times, until all debts are paid or the inmate has no funds left (release or otherwise).



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