As we look at all the reasons that the prison population has exploded, especially for women. It is important that we do long term assessments of how policy changes affect people, and how do we create a safety net for those who can't comply.
The ranks of poor single mothers have grown since the 1996 welfare overhaul that weakened their safety net, and 30 percent now live with neither job income nor public assistance.
Milwaukee - In 2001, Lisa Craig snuck out of her home in Chicago and boarded a bus for Milwaukee with her three children, leaving behind an abusive husband, a stable job and most of her possessions.
The elimination in 1996 of federal welfare entitlements had its roots here in Wisconsin, where voters in the 1980s were angered over perceptions that poor Chicago "welfare queens" were heading north to take advantage of more generous programs. But Craig headed north because she had family there to help her.
After a short stay with her sister, Craig took her children - aged 1 to 8 - to a homeless shelter. In order to receive a monthly welfare payment of about $600, she entered a three-month training program with the hope of a landing a job at the end of it.
But the training didn't pay off. She didn't find full-time employment until 2006, when she was hired as a retail clerk at Goodwill, which paid enough to cover her $600 rent but not much else. The job lasted only until last November and she has been looking for another since.
Over the years, Craig has made ends meet with the help of Wisconsin Works, or W2, the state's overhauled welfare system. But she is "disenchanted" with the program because it has not lived up to its promise of helping her obtain long-term employment. "They need to come up with something else," she said in an interview.