Protest against prison system held outside Waupun Correctional Institution

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WAUPUN — A protest was held Sunday evening under the walls of Waupun Correctional Institution.

Over 50 people came up to Waupun from the Milwaukee-Kenosha area for the protest, many of whom were family members of inmates currently or formerly incarcerated at Waupun Correctional.

Organizers first announced the protest on June 6, one day after the press conference held by Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt, who charged nine Waupun Correctional Institution employees including Warden Randall Hepp after an investigation into the deaths of four inmates incarcerated within WCI.

Calls to hold employees accountable, significantly reform, or even dismantle the Wisconsin prison system were common throughout the protest. Several protesters carried signs reading “Close Waupun” and “Close Green Bay,” among other slogans.

However, the protesters did not give any suggestion to what their reformed system would look like, or where the inmates would go if two of Wisconsin’s oldest prisons were closed.

A counter-protest was also held at the other end of the prison by WCI Strong, a pro-prison guard group that believes the charges are overblown and that actions like these will make it harder for prisons to do their job.

Mayor of Waupun Rohn Bishop was also on scene at the protest. In last week’s Mayor’s Column Bishop came out in support of the men and women who work at WCI, strongly placing the blame on the State of Wisconsin for failing to give the prisons the support they need.

Several members of the State Legislature, including State Representatives Michael Schraa (R-Oshkosh) and Mark Born (R-Beaver Dam), have come out in favor of reforming the Wisconsin prison system, even suggesting constructing new facilities entirely. Rep. Schraa is the chair of the Assembly Committee on Corrections.

Waupun Police were on standby around the prison throughout the evening to ensure peace was kept during the protest.

Waupun Correctional Institution, formerly known as Waupun State Prison, is the oldest state prison in Wisconsin having first opened in 1851. The prison complex was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992.

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