One in every 36 Black Wisconsinites are in prison. Black people comprise 42 percent of the Wisconsin prison population, but just 6 percent of the state’s population. That being said, many individuals post-incarceration have a difficult time transitioning back into society due to lack of support and trying to find work. The Milwaukee Inner City Congregations Allied for Help, or MICAH, and the Dawah Centers Ibrahim House Reentry Facility, are two organizations working to help the Black Muslim post-incarcerated community get back into society. As these two organizations provide services, a voice, advocacy, and policy change for the Black incarcerated community, we see changes happening in these individuals’ daily lives.
What does MICAH and Ibrahim House do for the community?
Founded in 1988, MICAH is a multi-racial, interfaith organization committed to the justice issues of greatest impact on our communities. Our membership includes 39 congregations. Of many religious traditions, we work in unity to fulfill MICAH’s primary goal: To empower people to act together in pursuit of justice.
MICAH Executive Director and Lead Organizer, Lisa Jones says, “MICAH is a part of the movement that needs to take place in Milwaukee which helps break down systematic issues in order to lead to policy and legislative change on the state and community level”.
“MICAH does the movement work, we have different task forces. Not only does MICAH have the prison Transformation Task Force, but we also have one of the founding members of the coalition on lead emergency. So that would be water, and paint. We also have a jobs and economics Task Force. That’s looking at ways of, you know, how to get more hiring for particularly black and brown folks and folks that have the most the barriers like transitional jobs, people who have addictions or come out of poverty, they don’t have work.” says Jones.
MICAH is organizing on the following issues Civic Engagement, Coalition on Lead Emergency, Criminal Justice & Prison Reform, Education, Health Equity, Jobs & Economic Development, and Transportation.
MICAH works one on one with the DAWAH Center in Milwaukee in regards to many interfaith projects and works together to better our communities to create equity. The DAWAH Center is a faith-based congregation of the many groups that work with MICAH.
The Milwaukee Islamic Dawah Center Ibrahim House Program in Wisconsin has been known for its mass incarceration practices as it holds the record for most men of color per capita incarcerated in the entire nation, mainly for non-violent crimes. The program gains members by exposing individuals to the programming while they are incarcerated. Ibhramim house members go to the Milwaukee County jail to hold faith-based support groups so they better understand the resources Ibhrahim house has to offer. It also helps many gain support if they are converting to Islam since many at times do not gain that support says Kofi Ali, program manager of Ibrahim House. The role of Kofi is to help with processing, employment training, and leadership development. He works to help them smoothly transition back into society while growing as productive men.
The zip code 53206 being where most of those convictions come from. Ibrahim house works with Muslim ex-offenders by supporting their faith needs, find employment, and provide training in leadership development so that they are productive members of society.
How are these organizations working together?
MICAH helps connect Ibrahim house with individuals with information on release dates so Ibrahim house can connect with them in regards to sharing resources.
MICAH helps connect the Ibrahim house leaders with PO officers to get the exact release dates of many individuals and then provide them with information on Ibrahim House and the support they can give.
How can you help your post-incarcerated brothers?
Individuals can always help their family or friends who are being released from jail by being a healthy support for them and finding a place for this person to focus. There are resources for others to go for a safe environment, and having a support group, says Kofi.
If you have more questions on ways to help a friend or family member transitioning back into society post-incarceration call the DAWAH Center at (414) 462-1998 or you can visit them at 5135 N Teutonia Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53209. Their website is located here.
How does this create equity for the Black Muslim community in Milwaukee?
MICAH is working on the grand overall systemic issues in the black community to reduce inequities through policy change of those that are incarcerated and trying to reduce the number of Black people in Milwaukee from getting incarcerated.
Ibrahim house is looking to help with the transition of individuals back into society post-incarceration thus helping with the individualistic direct service needs which need to be met. Kofi Ali, program manager of the Ibrahim house says “the program aims to reduce recidivism and build our communities back up while working together.”
Together these two organizations are working one on one to help the Black community gain equity in Milwaukee and better their overall well-being.