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Author: Wisconsin Watch

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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Big Cannabis: Billions up for grabs as states move to legalize marijuana

If Wisconsin legalizes medical or recreational marijuana, state regulations would drive whether small and minority-owned businesses thrive, or even survive. The historic hub of black culture on the south side of Chicago called Bronzeville bears the marks of disinvestment, white flight and redlining common to many of the city’s black-majority neighborhoods. Along the expansive South Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, lines of greystones alternate in and out of disrepair, and many of the district’s blocks that were once home to vibrant institutions — earning it the name “Black Metropolis” — are now mottled with overgrown, vacant lots. A...

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Advocates say State’s incarceration fee policy of “pay-to-stay” criminalizes the poor

In 2011, Sean Pugh was arrested for allegedly violating terms of his release from prison. A year and a half into his roughly two-year stay in the Brown County Jail, he realized he owed the county around $17,000 — the result of a $20 daily “pay-to-stay” fee plus fees from previous jail stints. Brown County is one of at least 23 Wisconsin counties that assess “pay-to-stay” fees, which charge inmates for room and board for the time they are incarcerated, according to a Wisconsin Watch survey of county jails. “While most inmates have exploited society in some way, financial...

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Small Wisconsin hospitals look for ways to survive statewide rural health crisis

Mergers, reduced services, and expanding Medicaid are some ways to save rural hospitals while proposals for new funding models are stalled in Congress. When Ryan Neville was brought on as the chief executive of Memorial Medical Center, the sole hospital serving Clark County, Wisconsin, it could not get a bank loan. At that time, in 2013, rural safety net hospitals – those located more than 35 miles from another hospital – had a nationwide average of 69 days of cash reserves. But the Neillsville hospital lost $3 million that year and had enough reserves to pay its expenses for...

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Labor Trafficking: Victims accuse Wisconsin farm of prison-like conditions and exploitation

In 2016, “Roberto” legally came to the United States for the same reason many immigrants do — to earn a living and a slice of the American dream. But Roberto, a native of southern Mexico, says he suffered a nightmare of coercion, financial exploitation, threats and mistreatment while working on a Georgia farm and, later, at cabbage patches in southeastern Wisconsin. Roberto arrived in the United States legally under an H-2A visa, which allows seasonal farm laborers to work for specific employers. Roberto says he was forced to pay a fee and turn over the deed to his parents’...

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