Early in 2018, state lawmakers passed a bill that will close Wisconsin’s youth prisons. After heavily reported instances of abuse, lawsuits and criminal investigations, this felt like a long time coming. But what was to come in place of the contentious prisons was unknown, and in large part still is.
My favorite story this year is about a group of people who are working to make sure that local youth, families and community members have a say in how the county and the state are going to reform the youth justice system. Youth justice relates to a lot of issues Milwaukee is grappling with, such as how to reduce racial disparities and mass incarceration, and better care for those who have experienced trauma. In some ways, the group’s work feels similar to our mission at NNS: to open up a conversation about how policies and decisions are going to affect those who live in Milwaukee’s neighborhoods, and to make sure community members have a space to weigh in on those matters.
It was a privilege to witness residents and officials listen to each other and talk about how they want to transform this system into one that would have better outcomes for everyone.
Though I just started as a staff reporter at the Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service toward the end of 2018, I’m curious to see how the story of Milwaukee’s attempt at youth justice reform will continue to evolve in 2019, and am excited to continue to cover how these changes will affect people in the neighborhoods we cover.