Marijuana convictions long-lasting; ‘toxic’ UW-Madison lab tied to suicide; voting machine company questioned; critically ill patients turned back from MKE hospitals
Of note: This week we are proud to feature the latest two installments of The Cannabis Question series. In these stories, reporter Natalie Yahr unveils the long-lasting and at-times life-changing consequences of possession of marijuana — a substance that has been legalized for medical or recreational uses in 33 states. Those consequences for tens of thousands of Wisconsinites include trouble getting jobs, housing and student financial aid. But a bipartisan group of Wisconsin lawmakers has proposed making it easier to wipe cannabis-related and other low-level crimes from a person’s record.
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How a little pot can lead to big consequences for tens of thousands of Wisconsin residents
Wisconsin Watch — October 26, 2019
Michael was sentenced to 18 months of probation and a six-month driver’s license suspension for misdemeanor marijuana possession. It set off years of consequences, including what Michael described as “a life of petty crime.” He said, “The record just follows you forever and ever and ever.”
‘I’m still discriminated against’: Wisconsin lawmakers propose easing burdens on marijuana offenders
Wisconsin Watch — October 26, 2019
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. Nineteen years later, he is hoping to make those convictions less public. “(I’m) cleaning my background up so I can get a better life,” he said, “so things don’t stagnate me like they used to.”
‘Toxic’ lab lasted for years. UW-Madison had little idea until a student died by suicide
Wisconsin State Journal — October 28, 2019
Graduate students described the work environment under engineering professor Akbar Sayeed as “toxic” and “abusive.” One said he compared them to “slaves” who must learn to endure pain because it would last only four or five years. In 2016, John Brady’s seventh year on campus in a program that typically lasts five or six, he started secretly recording Sayeed screaming at students in the lab. In October 2016, at age 28, Brady killed himself. Read the follow-up story: UW-Madison failed to inform federal agency of ‘abusive’ professor’s conduct, paid leave.
The market for voting machines is broken. This company has thrived in it.
ProPublica — October 29, 2019
In the glare of the hotly contested 2018 elections, things did not go ideally for ES&S, the nation’s largest manufacturer of voting technology, which makes many of Wisconsin’s voting machines. Johnson County, Georgia, subsequently terminated its contract with ES&S after brand new equipment functioned in ways that made it difficult to know whether some people had voted more than once. Earlier from Wisconsin Watch: How hackers could attack Wisconsin’s elections and what state officials are doing about it
Two Milwaukee women were turned away from hospitals and died. One was having a stroke; the other had heart trouble.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — October 28, 2019
No federal agency tracks when hospitals close their doors to ambulances, a practice known as ambulance diversion. It’s impossible to know how many people are affected each year when ambulances are blocked from taking patients to the closest, best-equipped hospital. Through its own research, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has identified at least 21 deaths nationwide since 1990 — a number that likely vastly underestimates the total given how common diversions are and the risks that experts have identified in the practice.
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