Wisconsin Community Fund Online Grant Application Form 35th Funding Cycle
• Name of Your Organization : Forum for Understanding Prisons(FFUP)
• Your Organization's Contact Person & Title: Founder and Contact Person: Peggy Swan
. Contact Person's Phone Number(s) : 1-608-536-3993
• Contact Person's Email Address:firstname.lastname@example.org
• Your Organization's Address:29631 Wild rose Drive, Blue River, WI 53518
• Your Organization's Website: www.prisonforum.org
• Your Organization's Tax Status: We are a 501 (c)(3) organization
• In what year was your organization founded: 2001
• What is your organization's mission?
FFUP is a prisoner support group dedicated to finding ways in which concerned citizens can make changes in our justice system. We believe community involvement in the justice system is mandatory if our communities are to be healthy and truly safe. We write to prisoners from Wisconsin and around the country, work with family members, advocate within the system, and help spread the word to our fellow citizens that we citizens are responsible for the well being of those we lock up- that every prisoner has a story.
Over the years FFUP has used the web, newsletters and advocacy to become a reliable voice for the prisoners. Prisoners make up FFUP's core and they work with founder on all projects as best prison logistics allow.
Please tell us the type of support you are seeking:
Funding for one year of basic structural support and operating expenses.
In order to effectively implement our programs we need the structural tools- we request funding for the following items:
1) Laptop computer
2) Duplex printer: At present we are using a 4 year old Brother printer, long beyond warrantee, and expect its demise momentarily. It is not duplex. As we supply informational material to prisoners on a regular basis and newsletters, a duplex printer would save much time and energy. We do double -side everything possible , but manually.
3) Rural highspeed internet access (40 per month), or alternately, dial up interent access (20 per month). At present I have dial up and must do all web work at the library. A major setback in outreach is lack of highspeed internet as I cannot send most attachments with what 1 have and the slowness makes effective communication impossible. However, even the funding of the rural dial up would help as I have trouble affording that.
4) Money for expanded outreach by phone :there are many plans, currently we pay 8 cents a minute .
5) Postage, probably the biggest budget item as no prisoners have email or computers and most families of prisoners have no computer.
5) Funding for newsletter expenses and expansions of service. As 501c3 non profit we get low postage rates (17 cents per) but ink for printing and paper still keep output low. We have three versions of newsletters and ideally, we would put each out bi-monthly. All newsletters are edited as much as possible by prisoners and include many of their submissions. One newsletter is for all prisoners, one for segregation prisoners and one for education for general public. At present funding level all three are few and far between. The submissions and interest is high, and many who desire the newsletter cannot get it. More funding needed now and as we can produce these more regular, gradually we will be able get more support from prisoners who have funds.
6)Paper , ink- big expenses
Name of the Project or Program for which you are requesting support :
Three projects :
1) Wisconsin Committee for Ethical and Humane Treatment of Prisoners (WCEHTP)
2) Long Journey Home
3) Outreach and fundraising-
What is the amount of funding you are requesting:$ 3.000
What are the main budget items for your project (special events, staff, communications, rent, etc.) outreach/Communication tools are our biggest need. See questions above "type of support you are seeking" where items needed are listed laptop computer, duplex printer, internet access, postage, paper, ink etc. All present efforts are hampered by inability to purchase these things in adequate amount
What is your organization's current annual operating budget? Currently FFUP operates on my personal funds (268 dollars a month)and a few donations.(About 700 dollars a year) This keeps all outreach at minimum: I use my personal funds mainly to help prisoners with basic necessities like stamps and hygiene items, paper, books , typewriter ribbons and for newsletters and postage . Because it is my funds I use my own discretion. Donations go to newsletter, books for prisoners, and about $350 in internet and postal nonprofit and other fees, unless specified otherwise by donor .
What are the objectives of your project?
1) Wisconsin Committee for Ethical and Humane Treatment of Prisoners (WCEHTP): We are forming an Independent Citizen Committee which will investigate cases of overuse and abuse of segregation. This committee will make reports and recommendations to the prison officials and powers that be, and will take certain cases to the world court and US Courts. The target here is long term segregation- where the mentally ill and often the politically astute prisoners are kept in segregation for years.
The goals: a) to end the warehousing of the mentally ill
b) to free from segregation the prisoners who are isolated for years because of their leadership and legal abilities and
c) to force the public to build effective treatment pathways for our most vulnerable citizens. (Treatment not prison)
d) FFUP will also use the data collected by the committees to proceed more effectively with the individual advocacy it is now doing. I will include n this grant application the rough draft documents giving specifics of this project.
2) Long Journey Home
a) Work with all relevant organizations and DOC to see that the prisoner has access to all rehabilitative /learning/connecting tools from beginning through to the end of his/her incarceration. What is now "dead time" in prisoner jargon , needs to be turned into learning and growing time.
b) Connect with the many groups doing outreach work with returning prisoner as well as with prospective employers to try to build a seamless route to successful reentry. Help projects like "Miracle House" get support and grants it needs to continue efforts at housing returning prisoners.
3) Outreach and fundraising: if we get this grant, all efforts will be make to make FFUP self funding on this higher outreach level. One goal is a permanent traveling prisoner arts and crafts sale. Art facilitates direct to the heart communication .
Please describe the work for which you are requesting funds (1,000 words maximum)
Although FFUP was once a larger organization and part of a coalition of statewide groups with a family group in Milwaukee, at present FFUP consists of founder Peggy Swan, and many prisoners. We network with allies garnered over the years, and awareness of our work and the mind bending injustices of our system has grown. We have reached out to those who need to be heard, and feedback has been positive. FFUP sees itself as a bridge between prisoners and the community.
Our request for this present grant is for structural support for three ongoing projects. All involve founder Peg Swan and specific prisoners as organizers and have the potential to change fundamentally many aspects of the justice system as a whole and are result of many years of effort by both prisoners and I.
Brief description of three programs:
1) Wisconsin Committee for Ethical and Humane Treatment of Prisoners (WCEHTP):
Background: Prisons have become the de facto mental institutions of our time. The conditions in the segregation cells that house most of these people for years on end are indescribable and there has been no court in the country with enough clout to provide real remedy. At most, as in the 2002 lawsuit at Boscobel Supermax-the mentally ill were moved from the Supermax to darker dungeons.
The other group that is constantly kept illegitimately in solitary are would be leaders and litigators. What we believe is bogus testing and often unwarranted conduct reports are used as tools to perpetuate this grueling isolation. I have watched sane men deteriorate in the 11 years 1 have been doing prison work and have tried to with limited tools and more limited success, to get the public involved. Finally prisoners and I have come up with a viable pathway forward.
Specifics: As explained earlier, a committee will examine cases of specific long term segregation prisoners and get independent experts and consultants to do their own review of the prisoners where cases warrant. We are now gathering endorsements from organizations that know FFUP's work and will be sending out introductions and invitation letters to many concerned citizens. So far we have two informal endorsements for the committee-the Wisconsin Disability Rights Organization and Demeter Foundation. Meanwhile, we are gathering and studying individual cases of prisoners. As a legitimate committee, we will attract experts in psychology and other fields who can examine prisoners and give independent review of their health (mental and physical) and objectively estimate the danger the prisoner would pose if put in general population. We expect to do individual advocacy with the prisoners and also bring court cases to US and World Court. What is going on in our prisons is a human rights violation of the first order.
As 1 have been working with many activists and their organizations for years I think this committee will provide the needed connections to bring about real change. If requested I will provide mission statement, with details and rough draft documents. These are waiting for final approval by prisoner organizers.
2) Long journey Home:
Background: This project grew out of my work with two prisoners at the former Supermax, now WSPF. Their prison jobs involved helping prisoners with release. We have observed that it is important to start the rehabilitation process/release/readiness process upon entering prison, not in the last few days before release as is done now. FFUP has long been trying to get books and materials into education hungry prisoners and have always encountered stalwart opposition and hostility. Generally our efforts were met with the tightening of rules against free flow of healing materials. The prisoners have said "they want us to suffer" . What I feel is more of a territorial fight: "these prisoners are ours-hands off." Much learning goes on in the prisons but it is in spite the structure for the most part and takes extreme dedication on the part of the prisoner. It is very sad to see prisoner after prisoner released without adequate reading or math skills and virtually no potential for legal employment. There is time, there is desire on the part of prisoners to do the learning needed. No room for going into details here but there is only a skeletal attempt at helping these prisoners gain tools for healthy citizenry.
Specifics: With the communication tools provided by this grant, I would work with the prisoners to gather all available correspondences courses, institutions helping prisoners, programming. Apprenticeship programs are available to released prisoners but there is a reading and math requirement that most prisoners cannot meet upon release. We would get the testing material and teaching materials into prisoners so they would have a fair shot at finding work through apprenticeship programs. Same goes for grants available for 2 and 4 year college education and technical colleges. Again, the prisoner has enough time to gain the reading and math skills - he/she just needs the tools. What the prisoner calls "dead time" can truly be transformed. I speak primarily of math and reading but all kinds of reading materials are welcome and needed within these walls.
I have talked to folks about mail mentoring and have some possible volunteers but we lack the structure workbooks and handouts would provided. Also there is a scholarship foundation that languishes without finds in MA and I "college guild" that again struggles on with much enthusiasm but almost no tools so the waiting list is miles long. These fine programs need to be helped and FFUP, with this grant can help connect all the organizations and do a general fundraising campaign with them . We have a brochure done years ago to this effect (logo by prisoner artist below)below. Our attempts at gaining support through newsletters have failed-as I think too few people care to know about prisons. It needs to be on a larger scale and done by connecting many organizations.
let's stop the cycle: Monkey bars to prison bars.
Drawing by Wl prisoner, DarRen Morris
3) Making FFUP Outreach efforts sustainable and
growing, we have long had the potential of being a well
funded organization. We will use this grant money to see
that within the year our outreach efforts are made
permanent and effective. Basically the need is to gather
caring folks together for common goal. The following is a
list of permanent fundraising possibilities we can pursue
better once we have one years funding this grant would
provide. Threads to gather:
1) FFUP Has much donated prisoners art and crafts and
more is offered. All proceeds are put back into prisoners'
needs and trust is high, we have few buyers though, and
with increased funding, flyers and web would enhance
sales . Also this year I am entering local holiday sales with prisoner donated works and have added my own hand made stuff. The final hope is to have a traveling permanent prisoner arts and crafts sale going statewide - the ultimate educational/fundraising tool 4
2) Book publishing , perhaps FFUP self publishing. This is another connecting problem . we have the books , written by prisoners that are waiting for publication . Again , funding for phone and internet would help immensely in finding pathways.
3) Committed volunteer staff is coming and will help with getting funding base going. There are two ex-prisoners who will be volunteering for FFUP. One, released two months ago, took the Blackstone Paralegal course at FFUP's expense while in prisons and will be helping with our legal network. Another will do outreach in Milwaukee with a project he calls" out and able" . He is waiting for his release date, which has changed over and over and plans on projects that help ex prisoners find and create jobs for themselves.
4)10 years of friendship with many Milwaukee families and 2 years of monthly meetings with them has garnered us many friends in Milwaukee. This is where the horror of our present system impacts most and where the bulk of FFUP support must come. Most these people rely on snail mail and regular newsletters and flyers would have tremendous impact. There are many helping organizations in Milwaukee which we have peripherally contacted that will join in efforts that impact all .
5)lncluded in our bag of potential outreach help is the many years FFUP has worked with Mum, CURE , Books to Prisoners, Prison Ministry and with other groups in Wisconsin and nationwide. IT is a vibrant community but each works solo, without much funding and usually only a few people doing the work. . The vision is to connect, first perhaps with our new committee, Wisconsin Committee for Ethical and Humane Treatment of Prisoners (WCEHTP), and then all is possible.
How will you measure your success?
1) WCEHTP has straightforward goals. We need to become credible enough to attract experts who will test prisoners and testify in court. We will be able to easily see outcomes of our work- better conditions for the mentally ill and finally removal of all mentally ill from segregation. And the case by case investigation of political prisoners will be easily evaluated. Public education is also a goal but I do not think most of the public is ready for the truth of what we as a society are doing. I do not expect great changes in public perception of prisoners but we can help get the truth out there. Gradually we need to gather organzations and concerned citizens to pressure for change-
2) Long Journey Home can be judged by the quality of data garnered , how well we get this information to the prisoners, and how effective we are in helping him her connect with organizations that can help. This is easily judged by feed back of prisoners..At present I refer many prisoner who want release information to my cohort at WSPF , as explained in intro. In future , we will see that many prisoners have general information for in- prison learning and can disperse it. We again need to do amazing outreach to acquire the workbooks and reading tools for real education within the prison and it will take pressure for the outside to force the prisons to allow our work to proceed. To connect with other organizations trying to help prisoners within the prison is also key- maybe a general fundraiser is possible for books, scholarships and learning materials is possible.
3) FFUP sustainable fundraising and outreach: the progress in all the items listed in project three above
are easily gauged
In my 11 years at this I have come to realize that there will be no healing unless the effected community makes it so. That Milwaukee has the highest incarceration rate in the nation and near the lowest reading/math scores should have told all what is needed. Instead , with prisons as the one really reliable job for much of rural America, the myth of the "worst of the worst" and "rapists and murderers" is perpetuated and people sleep while confused impoverished, uneducated kids are funneled into prison. The system works as long as the affected community is kept at war with itself. Most prisoners I talked to come from horrific backgrounds and have no father models- only the drug dealer on the corner . Their support system is gangs,
Bringing healthy fathers and mothers brothers, sisters back to the Milwaukee Community is one big piece of the healing needed that has been ignored. The prisons used to have good programs for prisoners and older men I work with are dying to give back to their communities, to work with the young people and make communities of poverty whole. Without intervention like that FFUP is proposing, the future for most younger prisoners is bleak, for they leave after years of incarceration with few tools for healthy living. The mentally ill are simply warehoused until they get released, in worse condition , or commit suicide. FFUP wants to help connect all concerned, aware people in a multifaceted effort at healing . We are all brothers and sisters.
What community does your organization work with and how are they involved in your programs?
The community I am most involved with is the prisoner and prisoner families. FFUP has three main prisoner consultants on FFUP policies /strategies and a few newsletter editors . Submissions by prisoners to web and newsletter are constant. FFUP has long been buying supplies for prisoners- stamps, hygiene, typewriter ribbons-basic necessities in an effort to help prisoners keep psyche intact. Larger efforts have been evolving until finally now, with prisoners at the helm, I think we have come up with effective programs. I am always in touch with the activist community in Madison and Milwaukee also, (Contact mostly by email), and have good friends among the prisoners' family members.
How was the community involved in the preparation of this proposal? All three proposals were worked out directly with prisoners. The WCEHTP was written by prisoners and there is a working committee on it.
Other documents available upon request include:
1) newsletters, pamphlets
2) letters of recommendations from coworkers, other activitists and thankyou letters from prisoners and their families
3) Rough draft documents of new committee WCEHTP