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Guards, Families Urge Wisconsin Lawmakers To Address Prison System Issues

Former guards in Wisconsin prisons and family members of people incarcerated there urged lawmakers Tuesday to address what they said were systemic problems within the state’s prison system going back years, the Associated Press reports. They detailed allegations of sexual harassment by supervisors, retaliation against prison guards who dare to speak out and abuse of inmates. Many called for creating an independent ombudsman office to investigate complaints. The hearing came two weeks after a guard was killed at the state’s youth prison and a month after multiple staffers at a maximum security adult prison were charged in connection with two inmate deaths. Lawmakers are looking at potential solutions, but the job is difficult because so many current employees are scared to come forward, said state Rep. Michael Schraa, chair of the Assembly Corrections Committee that held Tuesday’s hearing.

“Retaliation is a real thing and we all have experienced it personally,” said Rebecca Aubart, who leads a group called the Ladies of SCI, which advocates for inmates at the Stanley Correctional Institution. “It literally is like pulling teeth to get people to come talk to you.” She said the problems are “everywhere” and there needs to be a bipartisan effort to fix them. “It’s not one person’s fault,” Aubart said. “It’s not one administration’s fault.” Two teenagers imprisoned at the troubled Lincoln Hills juvenile facility — one 16-year-old and one 17-year-old — have been charged in connection with a June 24 fight that left counselor Corey Proulx dead. According to the criminal complaints, one of the inmates punched Proulx, who fell and hit his head on concrete pavement. He was 49. Earlier in June, prosecutors charged Waupun Correctional Institution Warden Randall Hepp and eight members of his staff with various felonies, including misconduct and inmate abuse, in connection with two inmates’ deaths at the maximum security facility since last year. One of the inmates died of a stroke and the other died of dehydration, according to court documents.


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