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Protesters gather outside of Governors Mansion to demand prison reform

MADISON, Wis. — Nearly 100 protesters gathered outside of the Governor’s Mansion Thursday to demand prison and jail reform. Represented by reform groups EXPO and MOSES, demonstrators advocated for the release of non-violent prisoners to keep them safe from COVID-19.

The Drive to Decarcerate WI started at the Madison Labor Temple on South Park Street before people loaded up in their cars and drove up to the Capitol Square around noon.

“Now is the time to look at how we can have a relief valve,” said Jerome Dillard of EXPO, which stands for Ex-Incarcerated People Organizing. “We want to get people out who are not a danger to our communities and create some distancing space within the prison system.”

Dillard says the group’s displeasure with Evers stems from a campaign promise to cut Wisconsin’s prison population in half, which they say has not been done.

“It’s time to keep your campaign promises,” Dillard said. “But also recognize the humanity of individuals who are inside our correctional facilities.”

From the Capitol, protesters made their way to the Governor’s Mansion where they gathered to call on Gov. Tony Evers to make changes to Wisconsin’s prison system.

Protesters also created a mural in the public space at the Governor’s Mansion to bring attention to the 259 people in the Department of Correction’s care who have been diagnosed with COVID-19.

“Evers has the power to release at least 25 percent of the prison population, but he’s remained silent,” said Rachel Kincade of M.O.S.E.S, which stands for Madison Organizing In Strength Equality And Solidarity.

At this time, Governor Evers team has not responded to our request for comment.