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Faith-Based Network Demands Wisconsin Adjust Its Corrections System

The religious coalition WISDOM is delivering demands Wednesday to the Department of Corrections, including that it consider parole for 3,000 inmates.

Wisdom member, Rev. Jerry Hancock says those 3,000 people were sent to prison before Wisconsin enacted Truth in Sentencing legislation in 1999. It basically eliminated parole. "They were sentenced under the old law," Hancock says, when judges thought parole would be a possibility after a certain number of years.

Hancock says parole opportunities, for inmates of more than 15 years, have basically come to a halt in recent times. WISDOM representatives are asking the governor and the Dept. of Corrections to consider parole requests, while keeping public safety in mind.

"These people, many of them were convicted of very serious crimes, but they have been in prison for a long time. The question is not, who they were when they were convicted the crimes, but who they are now. A fair parole process would evaluate whether or not they have made significant changes in their lives," Hancock says.

WISDOM's goal is to convince Wisconsin to reduce its prison population in half by 2015, by steering nearly 11,000 inmates toward community services. The group claims the state would save $96 million dollars.

Another recommendation WISDOM is making to Wisconsin corrections leaders, is to release more gravely ill and elderly inmates.