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Hoping to raise awareness ahead of the mayor’s operating budget announcement Oct. 4, a grassroots coalition presented its $3 million plan to address racial disparities, violence and recidivism to the Madison City Council Tuesday night.

“Violence in this community needs to be addressed immediately,” said Zandra Hagberg, a coalition member.

The group, called the Focused Interruption Coalition, revised a 15-point framework that is a combination of separate plans from Alds. Maurice Cheeks, District 10, and Matt Phair, District 20 and Dane County Boys and Girls Club CEO Michael Johnson.

The coalition’s plan calls for the city, county and Madison community to invest in key programs beginning in 2017 that prevent and address violence and look ahead to creating a violence prevention office — called the Madison Alternative Policing Strategy — that is independent of the Madison Police Department to oversee the plan’s implementation.

The initiatives are divided up to be implemented over two years with funding phased out over three years.

“We believe the 15-point plan is a holistic approach and in that holistic approach, we are looking at a community that is safer, that is more productive and is more inclusive,” said Caliph Muab’El, a coalition member. “And that is the ultimate goal.”

Year one includes plans to employ an additional 115 youth in the summer of 2017, send out a request for proposals for community-based diversity and reentry activities and creating a staff member to oversee the plan’s implementation.

In 2018, the group plans to create a MAPS office with the support of local organizations and the community. This office could take on responsibility for year-one initiatives as well as taking on court advocacy responsibilities, working on providing mental health therapy and lobbying the criminal justice system for alternative sentencing.

Muab’El described the city as a body that is sick and the 15-point plan as the antidote to the illness of racial disparities and violence that affects many in the community. He also said the group is “at the point of no return” and turning to the city to enact the plan.

“We’ve done everything we can do up to this point and nothing has worked,” Muab’El said. “If there's no solution that you guys have on the table that serves as an alternative … then why not invest in this program?”

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Mayor Paul Soglin expressed support for the plan when it was announced in July, but it is unknown if he will include funding in his proposed executive operating budget.

The full list of initiatives includes:

  1. Recruit and train peer support coaches for violence prevention 
  2. Recruit and train peer support coaches for recidivism reduction 
  3. Madison Peace Project 
  4. Awards and Protection for Witnesses 
  5. Youth Employment
  6. Mentoring 
  7. Create a Restoration Center 
  8. Expansion of Community Center Hours 
  9. Alternative Sentencing
  10. Mental Health Therapy
  11. Lobby for Policies that Address Social Determinants of Violence
  12. Remove Offenses on CCAP
  13. Court Advocacy
  14. Collaboration with Madison Out of School Time and the Madison Metropolitan School District
  15. Functional Family Therapy and Parent Management Training

Find video of the Focused Interruption Coalition HERE.

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Abigail Becker joined The Capital Times in 2016, where she primarily covers city and county government. She previously worked for the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism and the Wisconsin State Journal.