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Rally held for prison reform

Groups want to reduce state's prison population

MADISON, Wis. - Hundreds of people from all faiths gathered at the state Capitol on Thursday to call on lawmakers to help reduce the state's prison population.

The protesters want to cut the state's prison population in half by 2015, replacing the high cost of incarceration with rehabilitation efforts.

Several Catholic bishops and leaders of other denominations spoke at the rally.

"We can reduce our prison population by one half by putting people on home-monitoring devices and by giving them treatment and other kinds of programs instead of prison," said Tim Kehl, a retired Madison pastor. "Our concern now, since the governor has already presented his budget, is to go to the Joint Finance Committee and to see if we can get some funds put into county treatment and diversionary programs, rather than just people in prison."

Buses brought supporters from Green Bay, Appleton, Wausau, Eau Claire, Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha who were joined by many from Madison and other parts of the state.

The event was co-sponsored by the Wisconsin Council of Churches, WISDOM, Madison-area Urban Ministries, the Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee, the Lutheran Office on Public Policy and the Jewish Federation of Greater Milwaukee.

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