An Endless Cycle: Inequities of Wisconsin prison system push advocates to fight for reform · The Badger Herald
Milwaukee native Ramiah Whiteside was just 17 years old when a judge sentenced him to 47 years in prison. While Whiteside only served 20 years of his sentence, he cycled through 11 different correctional institutions, bouncing between super maximum security facilities all the way down to community custody. In consistently overcrowded prisons—where three people would sometimes be packed into a cell designed for one person—with little respect for individual privacy, prison was a dehumanizing experience for Whiteside.
…Some organizations in Wisconsin seek to help prisoners during their sentence. The Odyssey Beyond Bars program, which started in 2019, offers credit-bearing UW courses to people in Wisconsin prisons. Former prisoners can then enroll in technical schools or UW campuses around the state. According to OBB’s website, the program has reduced its students’ poverty rate from 87% to 45%.
The effects of Odyssey Beyond Bars’ program have also been passed down to the next generation, with two thirds of OBB participants believing their experience with the program spurred their children’s interest in college.
The cost of educational programs pales in comparison to the cost of recidivism – every dollar spent on correctional education saves about four to five dollars of incarceration costs.