'All In' Podcast Shares Stories, Successes and Struggles Of Incarcerated Wisconsinites
In 2014, Shannon Ross created The Community, a nonprofit organization working to help incarcerated Wisconsinites prepare for re-entering their life after their release.
Ross was in the middle of serving a 17-year sentence and wanted to make sure that he and other prisoners not only had resources for when they got out, but also while they’re still serving their sentences.
After being released in September 2020, he began searching for ways he could expand his work. Based in Milwaukee, Ross wanted to be able to talk about all of the issues surrounding re-entry and decided that he would launch a podcast, called All In, to create that platform.
“It made complete sense, with things that I feel are not spoken about in the space of re-entry reform, incarceration and way that we can kind of use this as a medium to increase collaboration and communication amongst organizations doing this work in this state,” he says.
Having resources to prepare him for the day he walked out of prison are what Ross says helped him stay successful while inside. He describes being in prison as an isolating experience and that losing touch with the outside world can be easy.
Ross says that the prison system in many ways is failing prisoners by not setting them up for their life after prison and can lead to more people being re-incarcerated. “A lot of time the system incentivizes us to get comfortable while we’re in, so that when we get out, we’re uncomfortable and then we have to find our way back into society and some of us never do,” he says.
Many people have never thought about the issue of prisoner re-entry and Ross says part of the podcast will be about listening to those who may not know much about or who many oppose reforms to the criminal justice system. “We do a lot of yelling in this space and a lot of posting on social media as if everything is very easy to package and you should just catch on and jump on the ship but we don’t do enough listening,” he says.
Ross acknowledges that despite his years in the system and work to improve conditions for incarcerated people, he doesn’t have all the answers. “We’re really trying to show people what we can and what we know but at the same time create a dialogue where you let us know why it is that you’re resistant to this, maybe we’re missing something as well,” he says.
That dialogue is also something he wants to start with other organizations and people working in the space of re-entry to find ways to support each other and find the best solutions.
In the end, he says this work is about improving the lives of incarcerated people. “I want to meld our interests and be better at the things we’ve been doing because we have to do more than just be on the right side of the issue to be effective,” Ross says.