“Milwaukee 53206” helps secure Wisconsin man’s parole

Portrait of Baron Walker, surrounded by his family

Portrait of Baron Walker, surrounded by his family

“This era of
mass incarceration
is having a
crushing impact
on our neighborhoods.”

Director Keith McQuirter


Last week, action inspired by the documentary Milwaukee 53206 helped unite a family that had been separated for more than two decades.

It came by way of a yearlong social justice impact campaign that encouraged Wisconsin authorities to grant parole for Baron Walker, who had been imprisoned for 22 years.

The campaign was hosted by Odyssey Impact, a nonprofit organization affiliated with Milwaukee’s production company, Transform Films Inc.

With a mission to “help draw attention to the need for parole and sentencing reform,” Odyssey partners with an array of faith communities, government agencies, advocacy groups, and nonprofit organizations “to inspire social change.” Their reasons for supporting Walker and many prisoners like him are explained in the award-winning film.



Directed and produced by Keith McQuirter, Milwaukee 53206 chronicles the reality of a Wisconsin zip code where up to 62% of African American males are imprisoned by age 34, the highest incarceration rate in the country. Besides exploring the stress endured by the men and their families, the film describes the challenges that the men face upon re-entering society.

“This era of mass incarceration is having a crushing impact on our neighborhoods,” says director / producer Keith McQuirter. “By shining a light on families and communities, we open the conversation about criminal justice in a way that is not often discussed in the national dialogue.”

Milwaukee 53206 takes a close look at Walker’s 60-year sentence for being a party-to-a-crime for two armed robberies in 1996. Walker did not physically harm anyone during the robberies and, while serving his sentence at Dane County’s minimum-security Oak Hill Correctional Institute, completed every treatment and education program available to him.

According to the laws that prevailed at the time of his conviction, he should have been paroled in 2011, after serving 25% of his sentence. But he was denied parole seven consecutive times because a piece of legislation known as “Truth In Sentencing” changed the law during his time in prison.

With support from Odyssey Impact, the film that tells Walker’s story has received 217 community screenings since May 2017, including two at the State of Wisconsin Department of Corrections.

“Milwaukee 53206 personalizes the destructive effects of mass incarceration on entire communities and the repercussions for families like the Walkers,” said Nick Stuart, President and CEO, Odyssey Impact and Transform Films, Inc. “Odyssey Impact’s goal is to elevate awareness of injustices being endured as part of the human experience by connecting with communities to encourage change, and we are grateful to our many partners for helping us to engage and illuminate.”

On August 17, Baron Walker was released from prison.

About Odyssey Impact
Odyssey Impact, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, believes that powerful documentaries with messages of social justice can motivate meaningful social change by raising awareness, changing attitudes and inspiring people of all faiths and good will to engage their communities on issues important in their lives and in society as a whole. The organization is dedicated to strategically building and executing social impact campaigns around documentaries by its affiliated production company, Transform Films, Inc. For more info, click here.

Send your film news to Reel Chicago Editor Dan Patton, dan@reelchicago.wpengine.com.