Lawmakers Demand Response to Allegations of Inmate Abuse
Milwaukee Democrats call on the Department of Corrections to respond to allegations of abuse at Waupun Correctional Institution.
Six Democratic Wisconsin lawmakers have written to the state Department of Corrections demanding action regarding allegations of abuse of inmates by guards at Waupun Correctional Institution.
“The Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism has published a series of articles that have drawn great interest and concern from many of our constituents,” the lawmakers wrote in a Sept. 9 letter to DOC Secretary Ed Wall. They said they were writing in hopes of prompting further dialogue on the issue.
The lawmakers noted that Wisdom, a faith-based state advocacy group, has received no reply to its earlier letters to Wall and to Republican Gov. Scott Walker, seeking an investigation into the allegations. They called for “a full and thoughtful response and/or dialogue of how DOC plans to address these allegations, what steps are taken to educate correctional officers on appropriate use of force, and how all parties can work together moving forward.”
DOC spokeswoman Joy Staab, in an email, declined to say whether Wall would meet with or respond to either the lawmakers or Wisdom. “The department remains focused on our mission of protecting the public, our staff and those in our charge,” she wrote.
Signing the letter were state Sen. Nikiya Harris Dodd and state Reps. Mandela Barnes, Evan Goyke, LaTonya Johnson, Sandy Pasch and Christine Sinicki. All live in Milwaukee except Pasch, who lives in Shorewood.
Incident reports provided by Waupun officials confirmed that inmates were subjected to the use of force, including tasers, pepper spray, knee strikes and takedowns, and in some cases sustained injuries. But the reports portrayed the prisoners as instigators, saying staff used only necessary force.
Two-thirds of those allegations involved a single correctional officer, Joseph Beahm, who has worked in Waupun’s segregation unit since 2006. Beahm has never been disciplined for any inmate-related infraction, the Center reported.
Bill Lueders is the Money and Politics Project director at the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism (www.WisconsinWatch.org). The Center produces the project in partnership with MapLight.
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