The Black Woman Reforming Criminal Justice in Wisconsin
State Senator, Wis.
As only the second African-American woman to serve in the state Senate -- and the first to chair its Judiciary Committee -- Taylor launched a “State of Justice” tour, in which she held committee meetings on the subject across the state. Lately she’s been pushing for a new emphasis on “restorative justice,” in which criminals have to grapple with the effects of their actions and attempt to make amends for them. This might mean talking with the victims of their crimes or with other community members.
A lifelong resident of Milwaukee, Taylor initially worked as a public defender representing clients who couldn’t afford an attorney. In 2003, she won a special election to the state Assembly; she was elected to the Senate a year later.
She says she believes her state may be newly open to rethinking its approach to criminal justice, in part because of how costly the current incarceration approach has become. “Now,” she says, “people are ready to listen.”