good explanation of parole fiasco and possible solution by James Mercer

James R. Mercer #110598
 100 Corrections Drive 
Stanley, WI 54768-6500
Friday, June 12, 2015.
Senator Terry Moulton
P.O. Box 8952
Madison, WI 53707
Attn. Senator Moulton:
I write to bring an important matter to your attention. In 1979 I was sent to.prison under a Life sentence, which made me parole eligible in 11 years, 3 months.
      However, since 1994 the Parole Commission has repeatedly denied me, and others like me (even though I am rehabilitated and ready to re- entersodetybecauseI'm not the same young wild man I used to be), a parole because of a federal bill which funded the prison boom and made the penalties for crimes roughly twice as harsh as they were before. During this time it should be also noted that this in turn chang­ed the system to Truth-In-Sentencing (hereinafter referred to as TIS). The prison population went from seven thousand to twenty-two thousand prisoners in a few short years, while treatment programs and schooling were cut or drastically cut back.
The "old law" prisoners still governed by either the 11 year, 3 month parole eligibility law or by the 13 year, 6 month eligibility law (25%), were unlawfully swept into the same basket as TIS prisoners and they are still being made to serve their full sentences. The reason for this occurrence is because both the Department of Corrections (hereinafter referred to as the DOG) and the Parole Commission be­gan retroactively applying the new parole laws to "old law" prisoners, out of con­venience to themselves, irregardless of the these prisoner's Constitutional Civil Rights and Liberties.
This illegal retroactive application of the new parole laws to "old law" prisoners is an egregious violation of the EX POST FACTO clause to the United States Constitution AND also violates my 14th Amendment "Due Process" rights willy-nilly. These two governmental agencies are basically trampling my Civil Rights like pearls before swine, again out of convenience to themselves. As a direct result of this illegal retroactive application of new parole laws to "old law" prisoners like my­self, there are 2,887 "old law" prisoners still in prison who are rehabilitated and ready to re-enter society and have been for many. years. These 2,887 "old law" prisoners who are still in prison, are not only parole eligible and have been for a very long time (25 years for myself), but are being held in State prisons at enormous cost in lives and dwindling resources.
         It costs $34,135 per year to house an average healthy prisoner, but it costs between $60,000 (minimum) and $100,000 per year to house aging prisoners who are usually 50+ years old. In addition to this, not only is healthcare for this group alone skyrocketing and substandard, but prisons have no way to humanely treat these elderly prisoners.       . .
The Wisconsin DOG is building hospice units for the very old and dying - people that are no longer a danger to anyone. All at the cost of the taxpayer, since those who are incarcerated are not eligible for Medicare, Medicaid or Social Security. Due to healthcare costs for the elderly prisoners, other prison programs have been dras­tically slashed or became non-existent. Plans for Mental. Health Units cannot be im­plemented due to a lack of funds. Moreover, the Wisconsin DOG has trouble keeping enough professional healthcare staff as a result of low pay.
$60,000 (minimum)
x 2,887 ("old law" prisoners)
$173,220,000 (minimum spent per year to keep "old law" prisoners stuck in prison.)
      Do you know what the excuse that the Parole Commission uses the most to deny me a parole (as well as others like me)? "Due to the seriousness of the offense you have not served sufficient time for punishment." The only thing I sin asking for from any government entity at this point, is fairness. There is nothing I can do about the seriousness of the offense I am in prison for and to use this purely subjective excuse as a reason to deny me a parole is insane and shows that the Parole Commission seems to have even less regard for human life than "they" accuse me of once having. I say this because as of June 22, 2015, I have been in the Wis­consin Prison System for 36 years and I guarantee you that I am not the same wild man I once was. Since I have been in prison I have acquired an Associate of Arts degree in Building Services and Maintenance in 2007 from M.A.T.C. (Madison College) and I am now presently going to a Refresher Math Course in preparation for taking vocational computer course while I hold down a job, so I can improve my chances of successfully getting a job if, I am ever finally released back into the community.
      I come to you with a solution. A Petition For Parole Rule Changes pursuant to Wisconsin Statute §227 has been submitted to DOC Secretary Wall and Parole Chair­man Dean Stensberg on April 6, 2015, which if adopted, would make the parole system finally work as the legislature originally intended. This parole rule change peti­tion was presented by the Forum For Understanding Prisons (29631 Wild Rose Drive; Blue River, WI 52518: Website is secondchancewi.org or prisonforum.org; Phone: 608-536-3993 and email:pgswan3@aol.com.) and statute §227 mandates that the rule change petition's proposals be seriously considered and the Petitioners be given a considered response.
         I am writing to you to ask you to look over the petition at www.secondchance .org and contact Parole Chairman Stensberg to ask him to adopt these proposed rule changes for parole when concerning "old law" prisoners. There need be no new changes in the law or new laws passed to fix our broken system. The vague and purely subjec­tive nature of the present parole rules (PAC 106) allow for contradicting .and ever changing unwritten guidelines and rules that keep parole ready prisoners incarcer­ated year after year, decade after decade for no other reason than pure malicious spite. Because of the health care needs for this aging group of prisoners (I myself was diagnosed as a type 2 diabetic in February of 2007), the DOC has no funds for rehabilitation, mental health treatment or adequate professional staff. As you are aware, there is no Medicare, Medicaid for Wisconsin prisoners and the Wisconsin taxpayer must pay 60 to 100 thousand dollars a year per prisoner to provide health care as they age and become sick. The result is that the Wisconsin tax payer for - the first time in history spend more on prisons than they do on the entire College system.
         All "old law" prisoners are over 30 and many have families waiting for them (as I do). All of these prisoners are past the age when most crime is committed. The new proposed parole rule changes will ensure that those that are ready for release will get to go back to their communities, thus stopping the enormous waste in lives and dwindling resources. 
           Please take a serious look at the petition online at www.secondchancewi.org and consider supporting it, because by supporting it you can help bring some sanity back to the Parole System. II guarantee that if I am finally paroled that I won't ever come back to prison with a new case, especially for a violent crime!

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