Legislature Must Act on Prison Overcrowding
Safety a huge issue; will Republicans have courage to take on issue?
As a Legislature, we have a responsibility to explore ways we can address this issue in the short term and in the long term. With a set of nine bills I have introduced this session with Representative Dave Considine, we are working to solve some of the problems we know officers and inmates are facing. It is not the end all be all to solve this problem, but it is a first step.
Our guard towers should have at least one officer in them at all times for community safety and to monitor for drones and other methods of contraband drop. Records detailing problem incidents between inmates and staff should be open records and released easily to the public and families; specifying these are open and subject to release takes the staff judgement out of that decision. Lots of medication is dispersed at our correctional institutions by officers who have little training; our bill requires training every year on medication. Finally, as we recently saw in Lincoln Hills and witnessed with a serious attack on a librarian at Columbia Correctional Institution, non-officer staff working in our correctional facilities are at risk as well. An officer should be present when dangerous inmates interact with civilian staff.
I am hopeful these reforms, or at least something, will happen in the Legislature to help our overcrowded, understaffed prisons and the people living with this issue every day. However, without even one single Republican brave enough to sign on to these bills, I am doubtful they will move with the current Republican control of the Legislature. I remain ready, as I have always operated, to work with any Legislator willing to try to solve Wisconsin’s public policy challenges.
Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, is a member of the Wisconsin state Senate.
More about the Overcrowding of Wisconsin's Prisons
- 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