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Wisconsin Weekly is a Friday news roundup of reports from Wisconsin Watch and other trusted news outlets. Access to some stories may be limited to subscribers of the news organizations that produced them. We urge our readers to consider supporting these important news outlets by subscribing, and sign up to get our free newsletters here

This week we highlight our latest story exploring voting rights for Wisconsinites with criminal records. In this story, Wisconsin Watch reporter Jonmaesha Beltran lays out the conditions under which the tens of thousands of people in Wisconsin convicted of felonies can legally vote. The main takeaway: Wisconsin automatically restores voting rights once a person is “off paper,” meaning they’ve finished probation, parole or extended supervision — a process that can last years. 

Poll worker Hannah Sorensen hands out a ballot during the Feb. 21, 2023 primary elections at the Gates of Heaven Synagogue polling location in Madison, Wis. (Amena Saleh/Wisconsin Watch)

Can formerly incarcerated people legally vote in Wisconsin? It depends.

Wisconsin Watch — March 21, 2023

Nearly 4.6 million people in the U.S. were barred from voting due to a felony conviction in 2022. That includes more than 65,000 people in Wisconsin, according to The Sentencing Project, an advocacy and research group. Neighboring Michigan, Minnesota and Illinois are among 22 states that automatically restore the voting rights of people convicted of a felony upon their release from prison. That’s not the case in Wisconsin, where people must first serve any probation, parole or supervision before voting.

Earlier coverage from Wisconsin Watch: ‘Election integrity’ proposals do not address most common voting infraction in Wisconsin; and Thousands of eligible Wisconsin voters face ballot barriers in jail

People hold signs during a rally in favor of abortion rights Saturday, March 11, 2023, in Appleton, Wis. (Angela Major / WPR)

The issue of abortion transformed the Wisconsin Supreme Court race

Wisconsin Public Radio — March 23, 2023

On a freezing day in mid-March, dozens of activists stood among snow piles in downtown Appleton, their focus on Wisconsin’s pivotal Supreme Court election. At the core of almost all of their remarks, one issue stood out: the future of abortion rights in Wisconsin. Abortion has long been an issue in Wisconsin elections, but it’s arguably on the ballot in the April 4 Supreme Court election.

Earlier coverage from Wisconsin Watch: Wisconsin’s 173-year-old ban allows only life-saving ‘therapeutic abortions.’ No one knows what that means.

Granite Hills Hospital, located in West Allis, Wisconsin, opened in January 2022 and is a central part of Milwaukee County’s mental health system redesign. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services substantiated a woman’s complaint about the treatment of her relative and flagged a range of violations. (Devin Blake / Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service)

Safety concerns mount at Milwaukee County’s Granite Hills psychiatric hospital

Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service — March 19, 2023

Family members and mental health advocates have expressed concern about the safety of patients at Granite Hills Hospital, the psychiatric hospital contracted to serve Milwaukee County residents. Among those lodging complaints is Cynthia Berry-Roberson. She says a relative was not properly supervised or medically monitored during a stay at the new facility.

Earlier coverage from Wisconsin Watch: ‘You’re treated like a criminal’: Wisconsin eyes fixes for emergency mental health system

GOP measures in Wisconsin, elsewhere push cash bail, subvert Democratic changes

Associated Press — March 20, 2023

Wisconsin’s Republican-controlled Legislature is asking voters to ratify a constitutional amendment that would make it harder for violent criminals to get out of jail on bail. GOP lawmakers in other states also are scrambling to make it harder for defendants to get out of jail before trial after branding themselves as tough on crime in the 2022 midterm elections. Their efforts have led to a fierce fight with Democrats over public safety and the rights of criminal defendants.

Learn more about the debate over cash bail in Wisconsin Watch’s Beyond Bail series.

A visitor canoes at dawn near Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., on June 21, 2017. ​(Bob Wick / Bureau of Land Management).

Lawsuit alleges is cluttered with ‘junk fees’

National Parks Traveler — March 20, 2023

The complaint seeks millions in refunds for public lands users from, which handles reservations for dozens of federal campgrounds and recreation sites in Wisconsin.


Administrators of the Pulitzer Prizes are coming to Wisconsin and inviting the public to an evening of discussion. Pulitzer Prize winning reporters Corey Johnson of ProPublica and Raquel Rutledge of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel will discuss how journalism can help improve societal problems. “Pulitzer on the Road: How Local Journalism Helps You,” will be held Tuesday, March 28 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Overture Center for the Arts in Madison. There will be a reception with light food and beverages following the program. The event is free, but please register here

Access to some stories listed in the Wisconsin Weekly roundup may be limited to subscribers of the news organizations that produced them. We urge our readers to consider supporting these important news outlets by subscribing. 

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