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Democrats Back Bills to Address Lockdown-Plagued Wisconsin Prisons

04 Nov 2023, Jail News, Prisons, by brian

Learn how Democrats are pushing for Wisconsin prisons’ reform to address lockdowns and inmate conditions, aiming for a positive impact.

Democrats Back Bills to Address Lockdown-Plagued Wisconsin Prisons - Inmate Lookup

Wisconsin Democrats are pushing for legislation to improve conditions in Wisconsin prisons. Restrictions on lockdowns and solitary confinement are among the planned measures, as are higher data collection and facility upgrades.

On Thursday, during a news conference at the state Capitol, the Democrats admitted that these measures are simply a band-aid approach and called for more extensive reforms to address the state’s mass incarceration. Based on a report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum, Wisconsin has the highest imprisonment rates for Black people in the US and spends the most on prisons per capita when compared to surrounding states from 2019 to 2021.

Recent reports from The New York Times and the Wisconsin State Journal have highlighted troubling conditions at Waupun Correctional Institution and Green Bay Correctional Institution, including months-long lockdowns that restrict inmates’ daily activities.

These conditions have led to legal issues, with 10 Waupun inmates suing the Department of Corrections over the prison conditions during a lockdown that started in March.

In response, Democrats are proposing measures to address these conditions in Wisconsin prisons, such as increasing the number of showers for inmates, raising the minimum wage for incarcerated individuals, and providing more visitation and hygiene items for those in solitary confinement. They also aim to improve facility conditions by updating HVAC systems, installing transparent windows, and allowing more outdoor activities.

While no Republicans have publicly supported the package as of reporting, some have expressed interest in closing the Green Bay and Waupun prisons and building a modern facility.

Former inmates and activists have voiced their support for the legislation, with one former inmate, Talib Akbar, highlighting the need for change and raising awareness about the practice of solitary confinement. He has expressed his concerns about inmates who have been under lockdown in Waupun prison since March.