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Author: Wisconsin Watch

Lack of Shelter: Homeless youth in Wisconsin continue to experience barriers for getting help

Many options for Milwaukee’s vulnerable youth house people involuntarily. They include group homes and detention centers where authorities place youths who get into trouble. That reinforces a stigma around homelessness that prevents some youths from telling anyone about their challenges, youth advocates say. “Most youth don’t want to be found because there are so many implications to being found. They could end up in a group home. They could get wrapped up in the system, or they could end up in the same unsafe space that they ran away from,” said Audra O’Connell, executive director of Walker’s Point Youth...

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Inside a doctor’s fight to manage opioid use for residents in rural Wisconsin

Rural residents are more prone to chronic pain and opioid addiction, but their health care systems offer fewer alternatives and treatments. In the village of Necedah, population 916, one doctor set out to change that. Dr. Angela Gatzke-Plamann didn’t grasp the full extent of her community’s opioid crisis until one desperate patient called on a Friday afternoon in 2016. “He was in complete crisis because he was admitting to me that he had lost control of his use of opioids,” recalls Gatzke-Plamann, 40, the only full-time family physician in the central Wisconsin village of Necedah, population 916, nestled among...

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Policies of Catholic run hospitals put reproductive access off-limits for many Wisconsin women

A retired obstetrician says Catholic restrictions kept her from providing the best care to patients: ‘When you have a moral conflict like that, it eats away at you.’ When Ascension’s St. Joseph Hospital in Milwaukee announced it would cut back services in 2018, residents of the surrounding Sherman Park area balked. The predominantly black, low-income neighborhood already faced its share of challenges. Nearly a third of residents in the ZIP code live in poverty, and black infants born there are more than twice as likely to die as white infants. Residents feared that reducing services would exacerbate these disparities,...

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Heavy rains flush Wisconsin’s untreated sewage into vital freshwater resources

Climate change is bringing heavier rains, making it tougher to keep untreated sewage and stormwater out of the Great Lakes. Thirty-year-old Conner Andrews has swum in Lake Michigan since his childhood days vacationing in Door County. “It was always a huge deal for me to go to the beach and have fun there and enjoy the waves and just being immersed in such a vast, vast body of water,” said Andrews, a Nashotah resident and former member of the University of Wisconsin-Madison men’s swim team. These days he gets the same feeling swimming at Milwaukee-area beaches. But he must...

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Sexual abuse survivors face trauma in silence as claims grow against Catholic clergy in Wisconsin

In the past year, some dioceses and religious orders have for the first time listed their accused clergy. At others, the decades of silence continues. When she was 7, Patty Gallagher was chosen to bring the priest who served her parish and school in Monona, Wisconsin, his daily milk. The Rev. Lawrence Trainor was practically a member of the family. He came over for dinner and visited the family cottage. Gallagher’s father and Trainor played cards and drank together. Trainor, a priest at Immaculate Heart of Mary Church, ingratiated himself with her parents. And then, Gallagher said, he “raped...

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Lawmakers advocate easing legal burdens and social discriminations for Wisconsin’s marijuana offenders

Proposals could help those with past arrests or convictions seek jobs and other opportunities; experts say the existing expungement law is hard to navigate. When Madison barber and business owner Brian Britt, 42, stepped up to a folding table in the entryway of the Urban League of Greater Madison, he had a single goal in his mind: Wipe from his record the decades-old criminal convictions he says are holding him back. In 2000, at age 22, Britt was convicted of marijuana possession with intent to deliver as a repeat offense and a gun charge — recklessly endangering safety with...

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