Deteriorated living conditions in two of Wisconsin’s prisons have been in the news lately, with public protests outside of Waupun Correctional Institution (WCI), a rodent infestation at Green Bay Correctional Institution (GBCI), and reports on “modified movement” conditions (a sanitized way of saying "lockdown") at those facilities. Gov. Tony Evers recently visited WCI and on Nov. 14 said that the restrictive conditions there and at GBCI will be eased.
This fall, Wisconsin Justice Initiative launched a newsletter for men and women inside Wisconsin’s prisons. In response to WJI’s educational outreach, several individuals sent reports on the difficult conditions inside WCI, GBCI, and other facilities that have not garnered as much media attention. Below are some of these reports, from both before and after Evers' announcement, in the individuals’ own words.
Wisconsin Secure Program Facility (a/k/a Boscobel or Supermax)
Late November 2023
I want everybody to understand that some prisons around the State has been on modified movement since around 2020 when the pandemic took over the world. I was at Stanley at the time and saw what took place first hand.
Governor Tony Evers has set a plan in motion to allow Green Bay and Waupun to come off modified lock down. THAT IS A LIE. If you not allowed programs, school, visits, and recreation you are still lock down.
Please understand that the prisons are not just short staff but they are overcrowded. The Governor want to send hundreds of prisoners to other prisons around the State to make the situation there much worst. That is what you call kicking the can down the road.
Wisconsin prisons are for profit. Its big business. We have guards that is making $36 dollars a hour to work at max plus time & half which is another $18 that add up to $54 dollars a hour. Guess what they do? They pass food 3 times a day through a slot and sit around because we all are lock in 24 hour a day here at Boscobel. Now who is the crooks.
Wisconsin need real prison reform. We need something in place to make people want to do better because right now as it is people going to do what they want because they feel like they going to have to do 100% of their time anyways. Mean while a person that has done everything to stay out of trouble will go home behind the person who has done nothing but cause trouble while he or she been in prison.
Its time to get real about what is going on.
Late November 2023
I would like to let everybody know that DOC was not just short staff. They short doctors, nurses, mental health staff, Teachers, and many other people that work around the prisons. So when DOC gave correctional officers that huge pay raise these other places that was short staff got even shorter because now the lady that was processing complaints or working in the business office are now correctional officers. . . .
One last thing. I been at Boscobel 7 months. I have been feed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches everyday for breakfast and one dinner on the weekend. Where is the money?
Waupun Correctional Institution
Late November 2023
After discussing how seeing his family is his “go to” way to cope with incarceration, one man wrote:
For the past 8 months I have not been able to see my mother in any form whatsoever. The thing that means the most to me, the thing that has the most effect on me as a human being has been kept away from me these past 8 while this institution figures out its' "staffing shortages." They have enough staff where they can make license plates 5 days a week, but I can't see my family once in 8 months! Someone tell me how that makes an iota of sense? . . .
The second way in which I would normally cope with such extreme and traumatic stress is a bit more obtuse so again I ask that you bear with me on the explanation. That coping method would simply be to go get a haircut!
Now I know that for some people the notion of going to get a haircut ranks as a minute and mundane practice. But for many men like me it is so much more. I am a black man whom was born and raised in the inner city and like so many minorities across the nation going to the barbershop and getting a haircut is so much more than the particular act. The barbershop for most of us is a safe place. It is a place for fellowship and community. Hell going to the barbershop is the closest that a lot of minorities will ever get to going to group therapy! And I say that in all seriousness.
I learned this as a very young child, just how much the barbershop meant in my community. It was a place where men would come and literally as well as figuratively shed the parts of themselves that were dead and/or dying. Going to the barbershop and getting a haircut was more then getting a fresh cut. Each and every time a men, especially a black man emerges from that chair after a haircut it is akin to a rebirth. And after all that black men have to go through and are put through in this country we need to have this symbolic rebirth as much as possible. This is probably the reason why black men spend so much time in the barbershop. It is our safe place to just be.
But because of this lockdown I have not known this feeling for 8 months. I have not gotten a haircut for 8 months! And couple to this the fact that for this same 8 month period I have been allowed one shower maximum per week! I have had my hair fall out on two separate occasions. I have had to completely shave my head bald because the stress of this continued lockdown and the lack of offered hygienic avenues by way of showers and haircare/haircut caused my hair to just fall out all of a sudden in huge clumps! I am unable to articulate how unnerving it is to wake up one day and your hair just starts to fall out! And when I attempted to tell medical staff as well as security staff about this they treated it like it was nothing, like I was nothing. And this has been this way for 8 straight months, being treated like I am nothing...
Just to catch you up on some of the other line items in regards to institutional happenings as of late.
Late October 2023
The lockdown remains strong, with small, pathetic attempts by wci to pacify us sprinkled in every now and then. The news had stated that we are locked in 23 hrs a day. No. Not true. We are locked in 24/7. I get out of my cell once a week for 15 min to take a shower. That's it. Rec is offered almost every week for 45-60 min a week for those who stand for count and don't have nothing hanging from their bars. 1 hour a week for rec-if they have the staff. No school. No barber shop. No religious services since Mar, although they just sent a memo saying they're trying to start services for 20 ppl at a time in Nov. One warm tray a day, n that's only mon-fri. Bag lunches for breakfast n dinner 7 days a week for 7 months now. All meals in cells since I've been here-no chow hall. No visits. Zoom or in person since Mar 28th either. There r other issues, but these r directly related to lockdown.
Late October 2023
We have been on a seven going on eight month lockdown. We get NO rec, one shower a week, one change a clothes a week, no library, no visits either contact or video, no church services and peanut butter sandwiches ten times a week or more for just as long! The conditions are so bad here people are killing there self with many more attempts everyday! . . . I was first incarcerated at the age of 15 in adult institution. I've never been to juvenile corrections. I've always been a non violent criminal. . . . The justice system here in Wisconsin is so broken.
Stanley Correctional Institution
Late November 2023
Per multiple blue shirt correctional officers, they are being directed to start a program of harassment based on enforcing the rules that have been relaxed due to staff shortages. As stated they are to start writing tickets all minor issues as minor tickets are not able to be challenged like a major ticket is. This way many will be on cell confinement. New staff have not worked at anytime when the institution has run under regular movement. If anyone has people that can place complaints in the community about this place and the issues here it would be helpful. Upper staff, white shirts, via the warden are instituting an environment that will become more and more hostile by the day after the 27th. Officers have opined that the warden is pushing this agenda so he can yet again lock down the institution and have limited movement as soon as possible. . . .
. . . . The warden has even removed the hard copies of the current DAI/DOC policies so as to hinder our capability to formulate proper complaints and or make due process claims. When asked about policy's we are told to go look it up, hard to do when no hard copies are available to look at.
There is so much wrong with this place, staff are even allowed to keep their badges hidden from sight. The mantra heard regularly from staff is “This is Stanley, we do things different”!
Green Bay Correctional Institution
Early November 2023
I am writing to report on a number of conditions of confinement issues inside the prison. They include, but are not limited to, the following:
Jackson Correctional Institution
Early November 2023
Jackson Correctional Institution has an inmate population that exceeds its general population capacity. The only way JCI can house its current population is by utilizing the segregation housing at near max capacity ALL THE TIME. This has led to a need for inflating segregation conefinement times for even relatively minor violations, a high number of false positive drug testing results due to misuse of their "drug sniffer" machines, the blockading of follow-up outside lab testing of positive tests, and a number of other suspect "violations" being written. If the segregation unit were emptied, there would be no place to house the inmates there.
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