October 5, 2020: DOC cannot contain spread of COVID-19


Columbia Correctional in on lockdown. Oshkosh Correctional no longer has a place to isolate people testing positive for COVID-19. Everyone is in danger, and DOC is responsible for neglecting its people.

MILWAUKEE, WIS. – October 5, 2020 – Emails from Wisconsin prisons show that DOC and prison authorities are no longer able to prevent the uncontrolled spread COVID-19.

Testimonies from the Oshkosh Correctional Institution demonstrate that all prisoners are put in danger:

They have ran out of room to put the positive cases. They are leaving them on the unit. There are so many infected they have no clue what to do. I watched them move two groups (15 people) out of one unit and they were going back for more when I stopped watching and went to bed at 10pm last night. They moved no one off this unit….they say the number is over 50 on this unit…they feed them with Styrofoam trays and I’ve counted them outside of at least 20 rooms so I know that number is at least close. The negative people have to walk down to get the hard trays and take them back to the room…one bathroom is for them one for us…but guess what race of people don’t care that they are infected but are using the non infected bathroom anyway. Last night and today they were coming to the door asking us if we were infected…if we said no we had to go pick up our food…if we said no they sent us to the non infected bathroom….so they have no idea and are paying no attention to who is using what bathroom at all. No ice, hot water, showers, phones for us because they don’t know what to do with all the infected people. This needs to get out that close to half of my unit (there are 6 or 7 other units infected also) came back as positive yesterday and they are doing nothing to separate us. 

People in Columbia Correctional have lost the freedom of movement and access to showers while some guards are still refusing to wear masks:

As of 9–23–20 CCI [Columbia Correctional Institution] was placed on lockdown (quarantine). No movement, no phone calls, no showers. No information is forthcoming from the administration. All I know is that 2 individuals on my unit (Hu-8), who work in Food Services was placed on quarantine 2 days prior to us. Word is going around that a guard came to work after testing positive w/ Covid-19. This isn’t surprising since a lot of these guards are MAGA supporters and believe this pandemic is a hoax. They don’t take safety protocols serious. Not all guards are guilty of this, but it only takes a few reckless ones to start an outbreak. The sad part of it all is that segregation is the safest place from catching it.

Together with ACLU, WISDOM and other organizations advocating for reducing the prison population, IWOC has been since March demanding from Gov. Tony Evers and Wisconsin DOC to adopt special measures for preventing the spread of the disease. “It only takes one misstep to turn an isolated, overpopulated institution into a death camp,” we wrote on March 19. Lack of Compassionate release and other promised measures to depopulate Wisconsin prisons have made this a morbid reality.