In an effort to better understand the deteriorating situation at Oshkosh Correctional, we submitted a brief survey to our contacts there. Below are each of their responses, transcribed in full, along with any additional comments included. Respondents have been assigned a number so as to protect their identities.
How would you describe the security situation?
“Oppressive, harsh and uncomfortable. The law library is always closed despite inmates’ court deadlines. However, there is always 3 to 5 officers at each unit talking and joking with each other willing and available to harass or be tyrannical. They will not give us our mail on Saturday. All other institutions get it” – 1
“Far worse than necessary. They’re is no real danger to anyone here–any reports of a “dangerous environment” is seriously over-exaggerated or downright deceptively misleading! A lot of the “security issues” is caused by some of the staff themselves stealing or wrecking prisoners property – disrespecting or antagonizing people deliberately knowing full well nothing will happen to them and if something does it will be minor and they’ll get paid leave and the person they intentionally antagonized will get charged with another crime or worse!” -2
“It would best be described as maximum security. We are only allowed 4.5 hours outside. We are not allowed access to the courtyard” – 3
How would you describe the food you receive?
“90% soy, no real meat products, mostly bland, hard dry peanut butter, dry bread that has no flavor. Grain husks and over-steamed vegetables” – 1
“Horrid. A lot of it is stale or rancid. Way too much soy protein meal (one of the former kitchen workers came back with a package label for some sort of meat that clearly stated “not for human consumption.” What was that about? Who konws. But why would that be in this institution. Portions: way lower than they say–food they serve to the public is definitely not even close to what they serve us – so any information provided by prison administrators or representatives should be considered false.” – 2
“Inhumane. Food contains so much soy it has created health problems, such as stomach tumors, stomach cancer, digestive problems, bleeding in stool. Rotten foots and spoiled food, small portions, processed meat.” – 3
How would you describe the canteen at Oshkosh?
“They are violating anti-trust vertical price-fixing laws. Inmates are seeking help with finding an attorney to file a $1 billion lawsuit. Sherman anti trust is USC 1 et seq (1890) provides private parties injured by violations are permitted to sue for triple the amount of damages done them. They are violating the RICO act and last year Keefe grossed $352 million dollars” – 1
“Exploitation! The prices are outrageous. You pay or you go without – no other options, and the prices keep going up and up and we haven’t gotten any sort of raise in wages in years – example: Ramen noodle went from $0.25 to $0.35 in the new and not so improved canteen order list” – 2
“Canteen is a rip off. Price gouging. Canteen items come stale and rotten. We are charged 3 times the prices in stores in society. The items are generic and off brand.”- 3
Have issues with food and canteen contributed to violence at Oshkosh?
“These issues naturally causes tension and stress. And when you are not provided positive outlets it contributes to trouble.” -1
“Not that I know of yet – but I feel it is inevitable. People are getting sick of the menu, the shrinking portions, items taken away is done little by little so as not to cause any immediate problems, but its a steady and constant decline in portions, quality (already bad) and selection” – 2
“Yes” – 3
What has changed since last summer’s lockdown
“They have taken our visiting hours and reduced the amount of time inmates can spend with their family. There are no food products when the kitchen is closed, and when it is open inmates are subject to their family being asked to leave under ‘we are short of staff’ though 3 to 5 sit around each unit every day. Things are worse, inmates are gaining weight due to lack of exercise. This institution is a maximum now…because they never lifted the lockdown, so they changed the rules to fit max.” – 1
“The lockdown is said to be over but they just changed the parameters of operations–things are definitely not back to what they were before the lock-down. It’s run more like a max than a medium, it’s just considered by them (administrators, warden, deputy warden, security director) normal operations. Staff are more aggressive. They yell a lot and they seem to want to start any sort of confrontations. Very antagonizing.” – 2
“The mistreatment of inmates has been exacerbated. Privileges taken away. The prison is no longer a medium prison it is a max.” – 3
Additional comments or concerns
“My concern is that this state has no oversight for inmates on any level. Not even with the courts. And I am pushing to develop a way to help on the outside and truly help those on the inside. I have a way, but its going to take for the outside help to understand that it includes litigation as public American citizens. That way the courts must get involved and cannot hide or cover up the legal proceedings (because you guys are free). Did you know…you guys can file restraining orders on our behalf? No charge! Did you know…as American free citizens , you can collectively contact the Federal Trade Commission about our canteen prices? No charge. They investigate what I stated above, and issue cease-and-desist orders. Try it!” – 1
“We have had no increase in pay in years yet the cost of everything has sky-rocketed and selection has gone way down over hobby selections have been totally gutted. We used to be able to order from Triarco, Nasco, and Blick art supplies also are musical instruments and accessories have been monopolized–we can only order from an “approved” vendor, one they obviously have got financial ties with. All I know is, the food is horrid, the security issues are overexaggerated to the point of absurdity. The canteen, hobby property is all monopolized.
The administrators seem to want a riot no doubt to have an excuse to collect on some of that funding for security issues that the federal government has available. It seems that the DOC administrators, investors, etc. are all guilty of fraud, misappropration of funds, profiteering, racketeering, monopolization, exploitation/extortion just to name a few crimes. I suspect they are guilty of killing prisoners as well – hope they don’t retaliate for this. You know house some criminals get when you check out their money they obviously have no accountability or consequences to anything they do.
In addition, pagan/wiccan services have suffered serious discrimination to an almost violent degree (if they could burn them at the stake I’m sure they would). Their ceremonial circle & altar got torn down and destroyed. They are constantly cancelling native american sweat lodge too. The library and indoor rec are almost cancelled 50% of the time, especially the library (includes law library). 50% of schedule library is canceled with not reason explained.
Property: hobby items (limited as they are) are sometimes months late – one of the biggest excuses used by the higher-ups is ‘well we’ve got over 2000 prisoners and it’s a big workload
Programs: some of the programs are good and valid (very constructive), but some are a downright disgrace. The program called MICA, the administrators get an estimated $80.00 for everyone they sign up. It is a very stressful program with an extremely high failure rate, and failure of the program is seriously detrimental to the person signed up. What they will do a lot of times is reassign the person again, so for MICA they get $80, they pay assignees pennies, and make their lives and environment even worse. The only ones who benefit form the MICA program are the administrators, directors, managers who get the money for sponsoring and assigning the program. The taxpayer really should know where their money is going – who’s getting it and what they’re doing with it.
Last grievance: The DOC finance offices are taking 60% of money for fines, restitution, surcharges, etc. If they say you owe money they garnish (steal your money). That includes any money sent by friends or family, gift money, etc. That leaves people with basically no money. If someone sends $50 to someone they say they owe money, the person gets $20, and they steal the rest! Another of the countless “white collar” criminal activities to swindle more money. This whole form is a good start for something to be done, but no one cares in the public. They just say “oh, they’re just a bunch of criminals anyway and they are probably lying anyway.” Our justice system and prison system personnel will never do something like that, so that’s the kind of mindset people (for the most part) have towards the plight of the prisoner(s). Thus nothing gets done about it and those who complain are made to suffer worse!!! I’m more than certain they (administrators, directors, wardens, etc.) have killed or had people killed or worse for saying far less.” – 2