Lockdowns at two of Wisconsin’s prisons are being eased, the governor announced in a move that comes less than a month after inmates filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the conditions at one of the prisons amount to cruel and unusual punishment.
Democratic lawmakers introduced a sweeping legislative package Thursday to address deteriorating conditions in Wisconsin prisons as a chronic staffing shortage has led to months-long lockdowns and a federal lawsuit.
The tip came into Wisconsin Watch: Milwaukee Tool, an internationally recognized brand, was using forced prison labor in China to produce work gloves.
Chishan prisoners report being forced to produce work gloves for the Brookfield, Wis.-based tool company, which did not answer specific questions.
Wisconsin has made a “culture shift” in its use of solitary confinement in prisons, eliminating it as punishment for minor rule infractions and cutting the time inmates spend in isolation for more serious offenses, Department of Corrections officials revealed in an interview granted as part of a legal settlement with the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism.
The Center alleges that the Wisconsin Department of Corrections failed to respond to two records requests regarding the Center’s ongoing investigation into inmate treatment and discipline.
A state prison official called the new rules, scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, “an excellent opportunity to focus on making positive changes” to the state’s use of solitary confinement.
The day before a reporter came to visit, Peg Swan received six letters from Wisconsin prison inmates. Some days she gets more than that. “Three is few,” she said.
Part 1: The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism has identified 40 allegations of physical or psychological abuse by correctional officers against inmates in Waupun’s segregation unit since 2011. The allegations, involving 33 inmates, allege extreme mistreatment, including being beaten and stomped on while handcuffed behind their backs.
Allegations of incidents involving 33 inmates, compiled from records and interviews.
Brief synopses of inmate allegations of abuse by correctional officers at the segregation unit at Waupun Correctional Institution.
The DOC, citing security reasons, denied the Center’s requests to interview inmates and take photographs in the segregation unit at Waupun, or videotape an inmate at another facility. It redacted from the released records references to inmate injuries and the physical or mental health treatment they received. It categorically denied access to formal complaints filed by inmates against guards, although some released records do convey the inmates’ perspective. And it denied access to video recordings to various incidents, saying this would compromise security.