Someone threw out a statistic that stunned me the other day and so I went to find it. I found this report from last year that seems to back up the stat...
W2 was supposed to save the taxpayer's money. The myth of the "welfare queen" was propagated in the white community to foment a disgust with poor African American women in the late 80's and early 90's and that led to horrific and wrong stereotypes of the poor. The hatred allowed Milwaukee to become a dumping ground for the Bradley Foundation to sew it's experiments on the population of this community. The irony of this fallacy was of course that the majority of women on welfare in Wisconsin were and always have been white.
The experiments have failed miserable and we are all paying an enormous cost.
This could be a really long post, but I don't have the time to write the full paper on the social, economic and quality of life costs of this great failure that is W2 in Wisconsin. I am though going to throw out a statistic that is stunning and ask my readers to think of the collateral costs of this statistic.
Since the implementation of W2 in Milwaukee, the female prison population in Wisconsin has risen approximately 420%!
Think about that, let it sink in....
So here's the short analysis, instead of a check for a thousand or so dollars a month to a family in need, we are now incarcerating women at the highest rate in history. The effects of this are stunning. With the mother in prison, we now pay the entire costs of her living expenses with the weight of the cost of the prison industrial complex added to that (approximately $35,000-$40,000 average/year). With Mom out of the home, each child is usually forced into foster care at a cost of approximately $40,000 per year per child! So let's just say that on average 2.5 children per destroyed family.
Each incarcerated mother in the state of Wisconsin is going to cost the taxpayers and average of $140,000!!!
What could we do with that money instead?
Well AODA treatment costs about $20,000/year. College at UWM is about $12,000/year. Job training could be much less. AFDC for unemployed women with 2.5 children is about $36,000/year while the mother is straightening up her life. So for about oh let's be really generous $80,000/year we COULD be supporting a family as they become independent. Instead we are spending $140,000, ($60,000 more per family!) to hold them in prison.
And what is the cost to their families? Children raised in foster care often inconsistent and insecure are more likely to become problem teenagers. The social effects are catastrophic and we are seeing those first hand in the juvenile incarceration rates and the skyrocketing incarceration rates over all in Wisconsin's poorest communities.
It's time we make the fiscally sound and morally correct decision to scrap W2 in Wisconsin altogether and replace it with a system that removes the profit margin going to private people from the taxpayer rolls and uses every dollar to make sound and reasonable decisions on how to improve the lives of all the poor people in Wisconsin!