The New Yorker’s “Milwaukee Experiment”

This New Yorker piece talking about alternatives to incarceration is not to be missed. It’s an in-depth investigation of what Milwaukee is doing to give people options other than prison or jail. The general vibe is that there is a knowledge out there that sentencing tactics must change. In fact, the article says, “By 2014,  federal prosecutors were seeking mandatory minimum sentences in only half of their drug-trafficking cases, down from two-thirds the previous year. The number of these prosecutions inched downward as well.”

Still, alternatives, which can be built on offering people wrap-around services to address their specific needs, are challenging. “In the communities where most crime takes place, we do not have the support structures in place for social alternatives to incarceration,” David A. Clarke, Jr., sheriff of Milwaukee County, told The New Yorker.

“If you want to make a difference you have to do more than process cases,” says the article’s main protagonist, John Chisolm, Milwaukee County’s district attorney.

Some key terms to keep in mind for prison alternatives:

-Early intervention before arraignment


-Deferred prosecution

“The whole program is designed to reduce the number of people we are putting in jail or prison, but to do it in a smart, accountable way,” said Jeffrey Altenburg, a deputy district attorney, who oversees the early-intervention program in Milwaukee. … “It’s to get people back on track, based on their risk and their need.”

Please take a look at this important article.


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