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Group calls for prison changes; State to begin new discipline policies

A faith-based group is calling for change in Wisconsin prisons, and some change may be happening as soon as early next year.

WISDOM, a coalition of religious organizations, met in a packed room at the Capitol Wednesday to talk about its plan to reduce the prison population by half -- to 11,000 --� by the end of 2015. They want increased funding for treatment alternatives and diversion programs, the release of thousands of inmates eligible for parole, and changes in policies for those sent back to prison for technical violations on probation.

"We are here to explain to the people in this building that we have a blueprint for change," said Rev. Jerry Hancock, of First Congregational Church. "This is not rocket science."

They also want to end the use of solitary confinement in prisons, saying it is inhumane.

"We are putting them inside very small cells, sometimes for 24 hours a day," said Rev. Kate Edwards, a Buddhist chaplain.

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Businesses react to potential freeze on downtown liquor licenses

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin is proposing to freeze the issuance of any new liquor licenses for the downtown area in the name of keeping the area "uniquely Madison."

Soglin said he recently returned from Austin, Texas, convinced that he needed to push for change on the street, and said he's been concerned for a few years that State Street could turn into an entertainment district like Austin's Sixth Street.

"I felt now we've got to have this discussion because otherwise if we ignore it the decisions will be made, and one day people will wake up and say 'Whatever happened to State Street?'" Soglin said.

Soglin said there's more alcohol available on the street now and not enough retail, in part because of high rent. He believes the city stepping in to prevent new liquor licenses will freeze costs and bring in new bookstores, art galleries and gift shops.

City hopes public restrooms will resolve public urination issue

The renaissance of downtown Madison can be seen in the skyline and on the sidewalks. If you look up, you'll see construction cranes working to create downtown living spaces, and at ground level, you will find sidewalks crowded with residents and visitors.

For the city, the problem is that while more people want to visit downtown, there aren't enough places for people to?go.

"We just need public restrooms. I mean, other large communities have dealt with this issue," said Susan Schmitz, president of Downtown Madison.

To address the issue, the city has created a public toilet committee, which Schmitz is chairing.

The committee is meeting every other week with a goal of providing the city with recommendations to address the issue in March.

Residents and business owners in the downtown area have wrestled with the problem of the homeless and individuals leaving bars and restaurants late at night, urinating in alley ways and parking ramps.

Record dairy prices mean higher pizza prices

Record dairy prices have caused several Madison pizzerias to increase the price of a pie.

"We could see the writing on the wall and were forced to raise our prices several months ago," Glass Nickel Franchise Director Steve Legler said of the mostly less than 5 percent increase. "Increases were minimal and just to offset the rising prices of the ingredients. We choose to continue to use the same quality ingredients that have made a name for Glass Nickel."

Pizza Extreme operators even warned customers of an increase with a flier on their boxes. While Ian?s Pizza and Roman Candle Pizzeria managers say they are holding prices steady, if higher cheese expenses hold they may be forced to raise prices eventually.

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Woman with stab wound says she was robbed

A woman who showed up at a clinic with a stab wound to the torso told police she was stabbed and punched while being robbed.

Madison police said they were called to Dean Clinic on South Stoughton Road at 4:04 p.m. Saturday after a 22-year-old woman showed up with a stab wound to the torso and a facial injury.

The woman told police she was attacked and robbed, but wasn?t clear on where the incident took place.

A friend told police she picked the injured woman up on East Washington Avenue and the woman said the stabbing took place on the south side. The woman told police the stabbing happened downtown.

The injuries were not life threatening.

She told police a bag of her belongings was lost during the robbery.

Man punched, robbed at gunpoint near campus, police say

A 20-year-old Madison man was punched and robbed at gunpoint early Saturday morning near the University of Wisconsin campus, according to a release from Madison police.

The man said he was standing on Langdon Street before 2:30 a.m. on Saturday when a car pulled up and a man with a handgun got out and demanded his wallet. The man was hit in the face and the robber fled with his wallet, cellphone and keys, police said.

The robber jumped back into the car, and it was last seen driving toward Memorial Union.

The robber is described as mixed race, in his 20s, 5 feet 10 inches to 6 feet tall with a thin build, shoulder-length dreadlocks, facial stubble and a chinstrap beard.

Protesters march in Madison

Dozens of protesters have marched through Madison to protest the decisions by grand juries in Missouri and New York against indicting police officers involved in the deaths of unarmed black men.

But organizers of Friday's protest stressed that their grievances go beyond those two cases, and involve broader concerns about what they consider police brutality against African-Americans.

"We've had enough conversation. We've had enough tip toeing around the issues and no one really confronts what it is." protest organizer Brandy Grayson said.

It's a conversation demanding racial equality not just in Dane County, or Wisconsin, but nationwide.

"What's happening across the nation is just a microcosm of institutionalized racism that's imbedded in every system," Grayson said.

Grayson and around a hundred protesters shut down the south transfer point bus station in Madison and marched down South Park Street Friday.