Statement from Danielle Shelton
1) What would be your primary concerns for “the state of the state”?
Mass incarceration is a huge blight on our community and the state as a whole. It affects whether folks want to come to visit or even live in our state; and it affects how we develop and prosper as a whole. We need to come together with ideas on how to alleviate these problems. My work in this area includes being an active member of the Felmer O. Chaney Advocacy Board (FCAB). FCAB is dedicated to advocating on behalf of reducing recidivism, enhancing re-integration, and lowering state budget costs due to incarceration. As a Public Defender I have developed a healthy network of community action organizations that I work with, that seek to help get community members out of the criminal justice system and are dedicated to to empowering people with the resources to move beyond poverty.
2) Which of your past work or cases do you feel has contributed most to or formed the kind of Judge you would be?
As a Public Defender I see what’s wrong in our court system every day. My clients are the most vulnerable in society -- poor, usually of color, and shunned for having been accused of committing a crime. Even if innocent, they often spend months or years behind bars and face devastating social and economic penalties. Judges can help create a fairer, more equitable system that treats all litigants with dignity, humanity, and fairly; and considers the consequences of an unjust system.
3) Please list any political, philanthropic, or professional groups of which you have been an active member.
- The first board I ever sat on was as a teen community advocate in 1979, when I sat on the local board for the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA);
- Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation;
- Black-Jewish Alliance through the Milwaukee Jewish Federation;
- Wisconsin Election Protection;
- Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA);
- Felmers O. Chaney Advocacy Board (FCAB);
- National Association of Black Veterans (NABVETS);
- In the past, I have served on the YMCA Camp Matawa board and was an active member with the Women’s Soccer Club.
4) Very briefly (about one sentence for each group), please describe what about those groups appealed to you, and why you worked with/joined them.
- The Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA) offered work to those with low incomes and the long term unemployed, as well as jobs to low income high school students. As a highschool student, I was a CETA recipient and was asked to sit on the local board to help make decisions regarding CETA’s administration in Milwaukee.
- The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) speaks as the representative of the Jewish community on issues of public affairs by convening and mobilizing the Jewish community through education, advocacy, social justice and support for Israel.
- The Black-Jewish Alliance creates occasions for African-Americans and Jews to work in partnership and celebrate our differences as well as our similarities. As a person of African-American and Jewish descent, the alliance helps both of my communities with understanding each other.
- Wisconsin Election Protection works to ensure that all voters have the opportunity to participate in the political process. I have worked as a legal poll watcher since 2008.
- Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) provides free income tax preparation to low income community members. Through the years I have prepared dozens of tax forms for members of our community, helping to identify tax credits that help our working families.
- National Association of Black Veterans (NABVETS) is a national organization founded by my step-father, Thomas H. Wynn, Sr and his friend William Sims. I first volunteered with NABVETS in 1977, when I helped to make signs and picketed the Milwaukee Veteran’s Administration regarding the treatment of soldiers affected by Agent Orange. NABVETS advocates for veterans and represents them in seeking their rightful benefits. As a veteran and a volunteer, NABVETS is an important resource in understanding veterans benefits and I have connected some of my Public Defender client’s with their services.
5) What do you see as the role of the court in the community?
The courts should be concerned with promoting, maintaining, and restoring healthy communities. The heart of justice and courts should have an eye toward bridging the gap between communities and courts, knitting together our fractured criminal justice system, helping offenders deal with problems that lead to crime, providing the courts with better information, and building a courthouse that fosters these ambitions.