Waupun, Taycheedah at 140% of Capacity
Some areas “no longer safe to occupy.” Part 3 of primer on prisons.
This is part three of our look at state prisons, how crowded they are, and what the Department of Corrections said during budget preparation it needed to fix and maintain them. Part one is here; part two is here.
We will say this in every post because it is worth repeating: This primer does not really address the consequences of the crowding and physical shortcomings of the institutions – the impacts on inmates and staff. But we sure hope you will keep them in mind as you consider the price of mass incarceration.
Institution: Taycheedah Correctional Institution, Waupun
Classification: Women’s prison
Capital budget request: $9,389,000
From the request: This project would construct a new 36,000 GSF modern style dorm housing unit, with some internal division for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (AODA) beds, beds for our aging population, and beds for general population inmates for a total of no less than 180 beds. Sufficient room needs to be included for the AODA programing to occur, for community service activities to continue, and for a servery and dayroom area to accommodate the dorm population.
Consideration should be given to the importance of separating the AODA program participants remaining from the other activities of the unit. DOC received a Block Grant of $150,000 which requires separation of the AODA participants from general population. Inmates participating in the AODA program typically do not have institution jobs, with their main focus on their programming needs.
AODA – Currently located in Adams Hall, which is the second oldest building at Taycheedah. Adams Hall is a 3-story brick building with general population on the 1st and 3rd floors, and a combination of general population and AODA participants on the second floor, for a total of about 170 inmates. Until recently, the second floor of Adams Hall occupied only the AODA participants. With the increase in female inmate population, the other two floors of Adams Hall have been opened with as many as 10 inmates to a room. Adams Hall was not originally constructed with indoor plumbing, rather it was retrofitted with plumbing in the cells in the 1970’s. Unfortunately, the plumbing leaks on a regular basis into areas on the first floor. Although doing their best, staff is not able to keep up with the repairs and maintenance concerns of this building. The thick walls and steam heat with no air exchange system make summers in Adams Hall often too hot to hold productive AODA groups. In the winter the hot water radiators with no controls make it equally difficult to regulate the temperature. Adams Hall also has a lack of cameras making it non-compliant with Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) guidelines.
The third floor of Harris Hall has deteriorated to the point it is no longer safe to occupy and the cost to renovate would be excessive. Adams Hall is also plagued with failing plumbing, failing concrete decorations on the exterior, lack of ventilation, and poor utilization of space.
Community Service and the Aging population – Currently Harris Hall is where inmates who are aging aspire to be housed. There are a limited number of beds available in this, Taycheedah’s oldest building, so a good conduct history is required to be assigned to Harris Hall. Because many of these same inmates also have an interest and skill in sewing and knitting, Community Service is currently run out of Harris Hall. The Community Service group is responsible for many of the quilts, blankets and other craft items donated back to the community via local nonprofit groups. Because of their age, health issues, and/or dependency on medical appliances, the new facility should be designed to meet current ADA standards. The design should include the ability to accommodate 20 or more inmates with physical limitations.
General Population Inmate – The current dorm is well received by the inmates housed there. The open style and social dynamic is easy to supervise and a good fit for the female offender population.
- Servery- The servery must be able to accommodate both tray line service and delivery of modified medical diet prepared in Food Service and delivered to the unit. Refrigeration, proper hot storage, under the counter dish washer, hand washing, and plenty of storage will be required. The current dining facility at Prescott was designed to feed about 400 inmates; unfortunately our current population is over 800.
Unfortunately, the plumbing leaks on a regular basis into areas on the first floor. Although doing their best, staff is not able to keep up with the repairs and maintenance concerns of this building.
The female population is 200 inmates higher today than it was when the John C. Burke Correctional Center was converted to a male facility in December of 2011. The Wisconsin Women’s Correctional System has experienced a steady increase in population since December 2011; December of 2011 the population was 1,148; December of 2012 was 1,222; December 2013 was 1,230; December 2014 was 1,343; December 2015 was 1403; August 2016 (current) population is 1,360.
Both Adams Hall and Harris Hall were opened in the early 1900s. Neither building is considered accessible by today’s ADA standards. Each building has many HVAC, plumbing and exterior masonry issues. The third floor of Harris Hall has deteriorated to the point it is no longer safe to occupy and the cost to renovate would be excessive. Adams Hall is also plagued with failing plumbing, failing concrete decorations on the exterior, lack of ventilation, and poor utilization of space. Adams Hall is located on the northeast side of the institution grounds, away from the rest of the housing and many institutional services.
Construction of a new dorm will allow the DOC to replace two aging and expensive to maintain buildings. A new building will also allow for better supervision by security and better access for those with physical impairments to other institution facilities.
Adams did house a minimal amount of inmates at one time, but now it is full and the 1st and 3rd floors are staffed 24/7 with unallocated positions.
Institution: Waupun Correctional Institution, Waupun
Classification: Maximum security
Capital budget request 1: $6,981,000
From the request: This project would construct improvements that include: cell front doors, operators and locking mechanisms, ADA improvements, plumbing improvements, electrical upgrades, telephone upgrades, heating and ventilating improvements, security camera monitoring and recording improvements, and a fire suppression and smoke control system. ADA improvements for the building will be contained to those required for inmates including cells, showers and toilet facilities. Three inmate housing cells would be converted into two accessible cells, which would provide 2% of all cells required for compliance. …
The existing fire protection system consists of a 2.5-inch fire main extending throughout the building to several Fire Hose cabinets. No fire suppression sprinkler system is currently in the building. … The intent is to fully sprinkle, with detention sprinkler heads, the cells and inmate areas. The fire department connection will be extended outside the prison wall for easy access to the fire department. …
Three inmate housing cells would be converted into two accessible cells, which would provide 2% of all cells required for (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliance.
The facility has a 20-ton water chiller with remote air-cooled condenser to provide tempered air to the basement. The two compressors for this unit are no longer working and the chiller is no longer in operation. …
Additional cameras and equipment will be added as requested by the facility. Some existing cameras will be replaced with new as directed by the facility. The surveillance system will be connected to the Central Control via existing fiber backbone cabling. The Central Control existing system matrix will need to be reprogrammed for the additional cameras.
All 1960s vintage panels will be replaced with new equipment. The panel at the officer’s station cage is currently used to turn the ceiling and wall lighting on and off daily by switching circuit breakers. Breakers are not designed to be used as switches on a regular basis so new switches are required.
This building contains 59 single occupancy cells. It houses inmates with a wide range of issues including: Psychological disorders combined with behavioral instability and other needs in a “therapeutic community” environment. These inmates have an inability to function adequately within the general population. The original building was built in 1956 as a segregation unit. There was an addition to the building put on in 1982. There have not been any major upgrades to this building since it was built, nor to the addition. This is the only housing unit at WCI which has not had any of these improvements to date. A study was completed in 2011.
Capital budget request 2: $4,090,000
From the request: The DOC requests enumeration of $4,090,000 GFSB for the completion of water system upgrades for the Central Generating Plant located at Waupun Correctional Institution (WCI). …
This project would complete the water system upgrades for the Central Generating Plant, which provides water service to the Central Generating Plant, Waupun Correctional Institution (WCI), Dodge Correctional Institution (DCI) and Burke Correctional Center in Waupun. The project would provide for the planning, design, and construction of:
- Study for site selection of the new treatment system and well location.
- New Well No. 6 and Pump House. This well would ideally be located at the northwest portion of the DCI grounds at least 1,500 feet from Well No. 5. It would be finished in the lower sandstone aquifer and be approximately 650 feet deep.
- New water treatment facility. Construct a new treatment system, ideally located near Well No. 6.
- Abandonment of Well No. 5. This includes removal of the pump, installation of tremie pipe, placement of pea gravel and grout.
- Construct backwash system at the new treatment facility located at new Well No. 6. It is assumed the conveyance piping would be a gravity sewer discharging to the Waupun sanitary sewer system north of the DCI grounds, near Beaver Dam and Lincoln Streets. Rock excavation would be required as part of this installation. Pipe size is expected to be 36-inches.
- New remote pump house for Well No. 3 and No. 4. Connect Well No. 3 and No. 4 to the water treatment facility. Rock excavation will be required for this installation. …
Well No. 5 and the second storage tank were constructed in 2013 to meet current and future water system demands. Both are located on the west side of the DCI grounds. Well No. 5 is an 800 foot deep sandstone aquifer well cased and grouted to a depth of 200 feet. Test pumping indicates the well will be able to provide a capacity of at least 800 gpm. This well has not yet been placed in service due to water quality issues. There is no pumping station facility to deliver water to the distribution system. …
Section NR 809 of the Wisconsin Administrative Code sets forth regulations and standards for combined levels of radium 226 (Ra-226) and radium 228 (Ra-228) in drinking water. … Radium is a naturally occurring radioactive element found in some waters obtained from the deep sandstone aquifer which underlies much of the southern half of Wisconsin. Samples from Well No. 3 and 4 indicate radium levels in these wells are considerably below the standard. Well No. 5, however, has not been put into service due to high radium levels in the samples.
After rehabilitation water samples from Well No. 5 still indicate water quality concerns causing Well No. 5 to remain out of operation. The City of Waupun has recently agreed to provide the CGP with water in the event of an emergency at the site.
In 2015, Well No. 3, 4 and 5 were rehabilitated by chemical treatment and mechanical agitation. Portions of these wells were also partially permanently abandoned. The purpose of this work was to attempt to improve water quality by reducing concentrations of combined radium, iron, and manganese. An additional purpose was to improve water quality by reducing and controlling microbiological activity and biofilms in these wells. Iron levels in Well Nos. 3 and 5 also remain high.
Mechanical and chemical rehabilitation of Well No. 3 was completed in April of 2015. … The bottom 100 feet of the well was permanently abandoned. Water samples taken for Well No. 3 show improved water quality levels. …
Rehabilitation of Well No. 5 was completed in February of 2015. This rehab consisted of mechanical agitation and chemical treatment similar to what was done for Wells 3 and 4. The bottom 320 feet of this well was also permanently abandoned. After rehabilitation water samples from Well No. 5 still indicate water quality concerns causing Well No. 5 to remain out of operation. The City of Waupun has recently agreed to provide the CGP with water in the event of an emergency at the site.
Institution: Kettle Moraine Correctional Institution, Plymouth
Classification: Medium security
Capital budget request: $33,627,000
From the request: This project would provide for the planning, design, and construction of two new housing units with 200 beds each to replace six original housing units each containing 65 beds built in 1962 and expanded in the 1970’s. This will be the first of three sequential projects to replace all of the original and temporary general population housing units at Kettle Moraine Correlational (sic) Institution (KMCI). …
The construction of KMCI began in 1960 and the facility was opened in 1962 as a Boys School with a rated capacity of 287. Over the years, the Kettle Moraine Boys School has gradually transformed into the KMCI to reflect the growth and change in DOC and now houses over 1,000 inmates. The 12 original cottages are over 50 years old and were originally constructed to house 25 youthful offenders. Ten of the units were expanded in the 1970s to increase the occupancy to 35 adult inmates. There was another increase to the number of inmates housed in them. Additional changes to the housing units and cottages have increased capacity to 50 inmates in the cottages and 65 inmates in housing units. Age, overcrowding and the conversion from juvenile to adult inmates has taken its toll on the facilities. KMCI continues to face significant repair and maintenance issues.
Maintenance on the existing buildings has been deferred to the point that significant and costly repairs are needed to continue operations. The original construction of these units does not meet current building codes. The air handling and ventilation systems are out of date and in need of serious cleaning and service. The construction of the air handling system has made it virtually impossible for this to happen without having dramatic reconstruction by expansion of the service area which is located in the attic of each unit.
All of the doors and locks are obsolete and parts and supplies are next to impossible to find. Door replacement required custom construction because they are non-standard size. The windows in the units are not detention grade and are not energy efficient. This leads to frequent breakage and a problem maintaining inmate cell room temperatures.
The hot water supply is also fed from the same central housing unit and the same problems of distribution occur. The units at the end of the complex frequently get cold water. … some of the key issues, such as staffing efficiency and occupant safety, remain unresolved.
The hydronic heating system is controlled in one central housing unit which supplies three satellite units. This type of system is very costly to maintain and should problems occur it affects 260 inmates well-being. The hot water supply is also fed from the same central housing unit and the same problems of distribution occur. The units at the end of the complex frequently get cold water. This set up is also costly and leads to inmate climate issues related to hot water. Electrical components are now obsolete and in need of replacement. There has been some asbestos containing materials (ACM) abated over the years but the floors have a significant amount of ACM. The tiles are giving way and a large abatement project is in need to deal with floor replacement should the units not be replaced.
Estimates for renovation of existing buildings have been done, but some of the key issues, such as staffing efficiency and occupant safety, remain unresolved. The life cycle of the current structures is coming to an end as the cost of maintaining them is becoming prohibitive.
Gretchen Schuldt writes a blog for Wisconsin Justice Initiative, whose mission is “To improve the quality of justice in Wisconsin by educating the public about legal issues and encouraging civic engagement in and debate about the judicial system and its operation.
- Op Ed: Legislature Must Act on Prison Overcrowding - State Sen. Jon Erpenbach - Dec 16th, 2017
- Columbia Prison at 153% of Capacity - Gretchen Schuldt - Dec 15th, 2017
- Waupun, Taycheedah at 140% of Capacity - Gretchen Schuldt - Dec 1st, 2017
- A Primer on Overcrowded Prisons, Part II - Gretchen Schuldt - Nov 24th, 2017
- A Primer On Crowded State Prisons - Gretchen Schuldt - Nov 20th, 2017
Read more about Overcrowding of Wisconsin's Prisons here