June 4, 2020 – “Precautionary” Suspension of Administrative Rules Used to Retaliate Against Prisoners

MILWAUKEE, WIS. – June 4, 2020 – On 5/31, Sunday, at Waupun Correctional Institution (WCI) 75 incarcerated people were chanting “Black lives matter! George Floyd-Say his name!” In retaliation, officers confiscated prisoner cellphones and shut off the antenna for local TV station. The same prison is the source of the outbreak of COVID 19 in Wisconsin.

“The guards and prison administration are treating us as if this lockdown is disciplinary and not due to a worldwide pandemic, an IWOC’s contact writes,–They only give us one shower a week, they aren’t giving us daily cleaning supplies […]. We haven’t had recreation in I don’t know how long. They’re restricting our communication to our families and the media. Certain staff have told us, blatantly, that they don’t care whether we (prisoners) catch coronavirus and die or not. We (the prisoners) are desperate to know what is going on and why we are being treated this way, when we’ve done nothing to deserve this type of treatment and or isolation.”

The same prison is identified as the source of a recent outbreak of COVID 19 in the City of Waupun. On 6/3, there were 227 positive cases in the Waupun area: https://www.wiscnews.com/bdc/news/local/shades-of- covid-waupun-prison-outbreak-shows-up-in-mapping/article_b8184cc8-04eb-5a01-9d9b-e5c11b742522.html. In the meantime, the use of masks and PPE is not enforced. This is just one of many examples of a lockdown used against the prisoners whose health it officially proclaims to protect.
A contact from Kettle Moraine Correctional Institution writes: “It seems as though the public is blind to the fact that inmates are being forced into their cells because the officers refuse to wear masks. We are told to sit only two to a table but are allowed to walk in groups of six (making moot he two to a table). Even officers are expressing how superfluous these restrictions upon prisoners are and yet state they are enforcing them “because [they’re] told to.” Inmates in medium security institutions are being treated as MAX inmates because THE OFFICERS don’t want to wear PPE. They expect us to take things seriously and then watch them do the opposite, congregating in groups of 5,6,and 7 behind small officer’s stations playing games and laughing at our being locked in for the last 3 months.”

People are not receiving hot meals or regular access to showers. Phone conversations are banned or severely limited. People who are about to be released are denied access to the means of planning for a future.

Another prisoner writes from Columbia Correctional: “We’re being denied two hot meals a day, we get bag meal with a sandwich one fruit and a handful of chips twice a day and a sandwich and handful of cereal in the morning! Our calorie intake is not adequate, does not reach anywhere close to 2000 calories which is the federal guidelines! We also are being denied showers we have not had a shower since Tuesday on unit 7 (my housing) unit! Furthermore, staff are not wearing masks or gloves and handling our bag meals during this corona virus pandemic! I fear for my health and safety in CCI! We are not getting fed properly and not getting showers, we’re being punished because two inmates escaped and, its being taken out on the rest of the population! Furthermore I release next month, and phone calls are banned now and staff are refusing to aid me in my pre-release planning, being I have no parole left to do, I’m in a very scary situation, I have no home to go to, can’t get on the phone to talk to my mother to see if she can help. I have a son whom I cannot provide for and jobs are scarce due to corona virus pandemic”

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Download press release here: http://wisconsinprisonvoices.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Press-Release-IWOC-June-4-2020.pdf