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*DISCLAIMER: SOME STORIES CONTAIN PROFANITY*
“Behind the Faces of Criminal Justice in the Chippewa Valley” is a collection of stories from people who have been involved in the criminal justice system in some way. Each person’s story is different and represents their lived experiences they have encountered with the criminal justice system. In this project we have offered the perspectives of people in various roles of the criminal justice system. In the stories below, you’ll read about the experiences of ex-prisoners, jail employees, and court coordinators, and have stories of several people in each category.
Along with these stories, on this website you’ll also find some infographics that provide objective facts pertaining to various issues related to mass incarceration.
The purpose of the Facing Project is to give a voice to those who have been silenced, bring awareness to their experiences, and help the public to understand the human experience of this social issue and to develop empathy for the people whose lives have included contact with it. Negative stigma about being involved in the criminal justice system tries to suggest that prisoners and ex-prisoners should be thought of as less important, less human; that they only exist as their crime or their sentence, ignoring circumstances before and after jail; that they no longer deserve to find employment, find housing, or vote (“Life After Release from Prison” infographic). Employers and renters often avoid becoming involved with people who have served time in prison, leaving many jobless and homeless, with few resources to support them. Many end up back in the prisons, with the Wisconsin recidivism rate as high as 46% between 2004-2007 (“Recidivism” infographic). The cycle suggests that the system which causes people to struggle for years or decades out of their lives is not very effective. Many prisoners are in prison because of unfortunate circumstances and would benefit from alternative treatments that are unavailable to most due to the public narrative which says they are simply “bad people who need to be punished”. 60% of prisoners in the US have had a traumatic brain injury which can cause issues that prevent the individual from knowing right from wrong (“TBI and Incarceration” infographic). Before the age of 18, about 45% of incarcerated men had experienced physical trauma and about 12% had experienced sexual trauma (“ACE” Infographic). It is evident that the prison system is not being used appropriately and that problems for inmates are piling up, however, stigma causes people to not talk about these issues.
“Behind the Faces of Criminal Justice in the Chippewa Valley” is our effort to spark conversations in our community about how we want to address crime and how we want to treat people who are arrested and/or convicted of criminal offenses and those people who work with them. The Chippewa Valley community has the right and the responsibility to determine the optimal ways to respond to crime and, if our response is not yet optimal, to change our system to make it so.
List of Stories:
Reuben’s Story, as told to Heather P. and Grant H.
Ken’s Story, as told to Rachel E. and Nicole B.
The Life of Tom, as told to Patlong L. and Katy T.
Breaking Cycles, as told to Cara W. and Jessica T.
No Second Chances: Life with a Permanent Record, as told to Alanna W. and Jessica N.
‘Our’ Issue, as told to Emmanuel C. and Breanna R. S.
You Can Only Go So Far with Optimism, as told to Rodrigo M. Jr. and Allison W.
The Story of a Jail Program Coordinator, as told to Breanna L. S. and Sierra J.
Behind the Face of Criminal Justice in the Chippewa Valley, as told to Sophia T. and Siri S.
Mike’s Story, as told to Dannelle M. and Brianna H.