Invest in Mental Health
Mental health affects everyone in Dane County. We need to treat people with mental health with dignity and invest in resources to change a situation instead of escalating to an arrest.
A Community United
As a community we need to prioritize racial justice work. While different communities – most notably the City of Madison – have done some work, we need to continue to use an equity lens when making decisions.
Reduce the Jail Population
We need to focus on our Black and Latino community and reduce the jail population by partnering with local communities and to focus police resources to helping people and deescalating instead of arresting individuals.
It’s clear that Dane County needs to significantly reduce the overall population in the jail. On November 24, 2020 there were 469 individuals in custody – 92% males and and 55% Black. According to a Dane County Jail Race and Ethnicity Disparity Analysis, Dane County incarceration rates for Blacks is 1,400 per 100,000 residents versus a US average of 616 people.
While during COVID-19 there is a decrease in the number of inmates, what happens after this pandemic is resolved?
The County Board needs to find new ways to work together with local communities, judges, the Dane County Sheriff, the state legislature and community agencies to reduce our jail population. We need to focus more on alternatives to incarceration and removing obstacles when people can’t pay their jail bail.
We need to work to treat mental health as a health crisis, not a public safety crisis. Residents who experience mental health episodes should be accurately identified and benefit from robust and continued mental health services. While Mental Health Courts, similar to drug courts, can prioritize positive outcomes for individuals, it is not a substitute for access to mental health care. In addition, access to treatment for addictions should be universal and free.
Through my employment with the Madison School District, I work with high school students and I’ve seen the Jail School classroom.We need to first disrupt the school-to-prision pipeline. But youth in the jail continue to need support – a classroom that have space to think, resources to keep up with their high school classmates and connections with peers.
All inmates should have opportunities to stay connected with their family and friends, whether it be in person, online or on the phone.
Finally, I support the legalization of marijuana and ending prosecution and incarceration for the possession and use of marijuana.