Black Lives Matter
Project RETURN has been working towards social justice for 40 years. Our core mission is to help formerly incarcerated individuals make a positive and permanent return to our Milwaukee community. Our daily work with these men and women make obvious to us the structural inequities and systemic racism that exists in our society. Project RETURN stands in solidarity with the sentiments being expressed by protesters across the city, the state, the country and the world regarding the movement to reduce and eliminate racist practices by institutions and individuals.
The protests have focused on areas of racial injustice that overlap with our mission: Race-based policing, police brutality and the militarization of the police. These entrenched practices ensnare individuals in a system that won’t let go of them, disrupting their ability to make a positive and permanent return to our communities upon leaving prison.
The protestors are shining an unrelenting spotlight on race-based policing and brutality and are giving voice to many currently or formerly incarcerated persons who have felt unseen and unheard for decades. Our formerly incarcerated siblings have been saying these things for a long time, but few with the power to enact change have listened. The masses of ordinary people now speaking truth to power are giving voice to the voiceless and, for the first time in many of their lives, giving hope to those who have felt hopeless and helpless in the face of authority and power structures in our country. As a result, the people Project RETURN serves, who long have felt ostracized, have said that they now feel included and more a part of the community than ever before.
This is why we strongly support staff and board members who are actively engaged with this struggle. We believe that Black Lives Matter and know that the major institutions that shape our lives – Education, Judicial, Health, Economic, Political – are all marred with deeply ingrained racist practices.
Wisconsin incarcerates Black men at the highest rate of any state in the nation. When Black women are included, our state has the second highest Black incarceration rate. Many of the clients we walk with are Black. The experience of four decades of service and work has made clear that reform must take place. The roots of injustice must be pulled out and social and racial justice planted in its place.
The larger population is waking up to the reality which many in our communities have lived all their lives. For this, Project RETURN is grateful and stands united with protestors. We join protestors. We are protestors. True change will happen when enough everyday people raise their voices, lift their fists and refuse to stop marching until the unequal treatment of human beings is stopped. That time is now.
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