Thursday, April 30, 2020

Take Action for Prisoners Against COVID-19!

This is an organized list of eight ways to participate in the struggle against COVID-19 in the DOC.

1. Contact Governor Evers. 
Governor Tony Evers
PO Box 7863
Madison, WI 53707                 
Call him: (608) 266-1212
If VM full, try his MKE office- 414-227-4344
Email him:,
Make your message personal, or share our mass email.  

2. Join or amplify a public demonstration.
Organizers are planning frequent public pressure actions, demonstrations at prisons, or outside Secretary Carr's house. These actions are carefully designed to practice social distancing and stay safe from COVID-19.
The next one is a Car Parade at MSDF on Thursday, April 9, from 1:30-3:00.
Attend, or share the videos from these actions. Follow FFUP on Facebook for updates.
Videos are also here, if you don't use Facebook.

3. Contact DOC Secretary Kevin Carr and other prison officials
Email Kevin-
Call DOC and ask for the Secretary's office- 608-240-5000
DAI Administrator Makda Fessahaye- 608-240-5100

Monday, April 6, 2020

Latest Prisoner Reports

Nate Lindell 303724 CCI

Receiving and Orientation unit is being used to quarantine those suspected of having COVID-19. We've been denied rec since Monday, 16 March. No visits are allowed. They only let people out to use phone or shower. Prisoners are let out to work in the kitchen and unit serving food. Many COs and most inmates wear face masks and gloves.

Full letter-

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Crisis in our prisons-Emails and letter needed. Can you Help?

Crisis in our prisons-Emails and letter needed. Can you Help?

Our Prisons are becoming  Corona Virus Death Traps
Dangerous for us, deadly for prisoners

The whole world is hunkered down because of the corona virus. In a way we are all in solitary confinement. I write to you today because, although we can keep ourselves safe from the virus with hand washing and sanitizing and following the CDC protocol, the prisoners in our state cannot. We have become close to many prisoners in our 20 plus years of doing this work and they have kept us updated on what is actually occurring in our prisons à la the coronavirus. The WI Department of Corrections claims its COVID-19 response is adequate, but they are not telling the truth about conditions in the prisons, or their response. The news is partially documented below, and more fully documented on our blogs whose links are imbedded. We ask for your help in writing the Governor.  There are two major points to make:
1)      Remove from harm’s way those most vulnerable because of old age or pre-existing health conditions including COPD. Studies have shown that due to the harshness of the environment, prisoners age 10 years faster than we on the outside. So a 58-year-old in prison is equivalent to our 68-year-old. Governor Evers needs to act now to release those prisoners who are most vulnerable to the ravages of the virus because of age and or preexisting health problems. Many have families waiting for them or have all their ducks in a row, and would be safely and easily released. Volunteers from the prison activist community are willing to help releasees transition.

2) All prisoners need sanitizer (70% alcohol in a spritzer- very cheap, or its equivalent) and good soap (wrapped).  One inmate tells us he has use of a watered-down cleaning solution but most prisoners say they get no sanitizers.  Currently indigent prisoners are given used, dirty bars of soap if they are in general population and tiny amount of liquid soap if they are in solitary . 

3) More secure quarantine practices need to be implemented at Waupun Correction Inst. and Columbia Correctional Inst. where coronavirus has been confirmed in staff t This needs to take  place without unnecessary intimidation and punishment. Also, preventative cleaning and hygiene protocols need to be followed. 

4) Other institutions need to implement social distancing measures so there will not be heavy exposure when someone contracts the virus, as was the case in WCI where many guards, nurses, and inmates came in contact with the infected doctor. Currently some institutions such as Stanley Correctional have not stopped practices such as lining prisoners up for meals.

5) The WIDOC  must be honest with the public and prisoners about  the spread of the virus throughout the system . There is currently little testing  of prisoners and we understand the shortage of tests. We are told, however, many prisoners in both WCI and CCI show symptoms of the Virus and some are sick. There is tremendous concern that lax protocol by guards and the prisoners’ lack of sanitizers and good soap  is spreading the virus throughout the system, infecting prisoners and then  the community.
Our Governor’s mailing information:
Governor Tony Evers
PO Box 7863
Madison, WI 53707                                                                                 

Email:     Governor Evers number: (608) 266-1212  (but message box is usually full).

It is also effective to call or write YOUR LEGISLATORS. Go to and click on your district to find their contact information. In would be great if you contacted your local media.

All our news so far comes from prisoner reports, some of which are below.  We are getting reports that indicate the DOC is listening to the public as this epidemic evolves.


Some of those at most risk- need to be released now-  a start
We are quickly putting together a blog of prisoners we know who can easily be released now to
1) get those most at risk because of age (59 plus)or preexisting conditions
2) have been requesting deportation and have court ordered deportations, have families waiting for them
3) will add later: have all their ducks in a row and are easily and safely released- making conditions in the prison more amenable to virus control/treatment

We begin with urgent cases: people old and or with preexisiting conditions. THIS IS A SAMPLING
Note- many of these profiles were put together for various parole and compassionate release products for the past so age and dates in the stories are old. I will put age now at beginning of each blurb)

MARK CUMMINGS (36842) 3/12/2020  NLCI
 I am 67 yrs. old, ive been down now for 33 yrs.. i have cancer, ive already had one surgery and i am waiting to go for another. I would appreciate anything you can do to help me.  Thank you mark

Verdell D Miles 3383. RGCI ,
69 YO;Age at time of offenses-33
crime:Murder PTAC, armed robbery PT
Has served 36 years 10 months no conduct reports since 2010

Verdell D Miles

1)STEVEN J. EARSLEY 361859 RGCI, P.O. Box 925, Redgranite, WI 54970
on oxygen, in wheel chair , has stage 4 COPD, heart stints, diabetes

To whom it may concern:
1.   Steven J. Earsley
2.   10/18/1953, age now: 65
3.   Date & Age at Incarceration:10/29/98,44
4.   Served 21 years to date
5.   94310(2)(d)-Burglary
940.225(2)(a)-2nd Deg. Sex Assault 948.07(1)-Child enticement
6.   Sentence was 125 years
8.   My MR is in 2081
9.   My first Parole is 4 July 2029
10. I have completed the following:
Cognitive Intervention / CGIP 1-11(1999)
Anger Management (4/21/2000)
Mental Health I-II
Emotional Trauma program
Thinking for change
Long Term Incarceration Course
Hospice Care (4/25/2013)
Served--20 years in the US Army and will be housed at VA Care Home,and my two sons will also help me with any living issues that arise.
I am bound to my wheelchair with an Oxygen tank as I have COPD Lev-4 (the last level before death). I have had several heart inplants/stints and am diabetic with poor health issues trying to gain compassionate release. Thank you in advance for your help in this matter.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Open letter to Governor Evers - look to your prisons

Governor Tony Evers
PO Box 7863; Madison, WI 53707                                           

Dear Governor Evers,
 I  join with many others to ask you to act quickly to save lives. Contrary to claims by the WIDOC, messages coming directly from incarcerated friends and relatives state that COVID 19 protocols are being inadequately followed to varying degrees in all prisons. In WCI and CCI, the inadequacies seem obvious and dangerous.  Prisoners are in many ways the most vulnerable members of our community because THEY CANNOT PROTECT THEMSELVES unless we give them the tools.

Many prisoners have been contacting members of activist groups. They state emphatically that prisons not allowing prisoners to have their own sanitizers/ or the solution in the sanitizers are so weak as to be ineffective. . This is a basic requirement whenever there is the threat of community disease transmission. In addition, indigent prisoners are given used soap, unwrapped and often filthy, and segregated prisoners are given tiny plastic packages of soap (size of mustard package) that is supposed to last days. DOC has misinterpreted a legislative action ( act 355) so even those who do have incoming money are often kept nearly penniless. All indigent prisoners and prisoners who request it,  should therefore get new, wrapped and effective soap in adequate amounts..
Additionally, in WCI and CCI where staff have tested positive and the virus is spreading, woefully inadequate measures are being taken to reduce the possibility of transmission. Prisoners at the most risk are clearly afraid. At the end of this letter is a list of some of the latest testimonies from WCI , CCI , SCI and PDCI . A dramatic statement statement from Harlan Richards, fine writer and litigator, speaks for Stanley but is true for all our prisons:
Stanley is a ticking time bomb of disease, infection and death. There are hundreds of elderly and immune-compromised prisoners in Stanley, those most likely to die from COVID-19. How many will be left in cells to live or die by the strength of their immune system? There are not enough hospital beds in this rural area to meet the needs of free people. You can be sure hundreds of infected prisoners will not be transferred to hospitals for treatment. It is simply not feasible even if there was adequate bed space.
The only answer is to implement restrictions before COVID-19 comes to Stanley because once it does, it will be impossible to manage."

Prisons are each handling the virus in dramatically different ways. Prairie Du Chien seems to be most on track to reduce or prevent infection. In contrast, after staff at WCI and CCI  tested positive, it is feared that the guards  may be spreading the virus to the cells, then going home to spread it there. As of this writing, a small amount of testing has been done but results are not in. We are told there are many prisoners sick and showing covid like symptoms. One prisoner told us there are 3 quarantined prisoners at the end of his hallway. Without increased testing, covid 19 infection cannot be identified. Are illness and death within the prisoner population going unreported? If so. I fear this is intentional. When the public is in the dark about seriousness of what is happening in the prisons, DOC is not forced to answer outside questions and respond to outside demands.

Governor Evers, many people have contacted you individually and I understand that WISDOM and ACLU had an interview with you in early March. Now that we all see more clearly just how serious this pandemic is, I feel this is the time for urgency.
Here are links to FFUP reports, reports by prisoners and a scroll down sampling of prisoners at greatest risk. Please take a look.

4) Report on how we got to this level of overcrowding and understaffing and loss of mission
                  and the way back TORTURE IN WI Prisons

  All this and more can also be found on our blog: 

I appeal to you to take action on the following items:
1)Please act now to release those prisoners who are most vulnerable to the ravages of the virus because of age and or preexisting health problems. This includes prisoners over 58 and/or have prexisting conditions that make them extra vulnerable-
Most have families to go to who are waiting. For those that don’t ,volunteers can help do the phoning and internet work to make sure the soon to be released prisoners have healthy and stable place to go.
Studies show that people in prison age about ten years faster than those outside  making 58 “inside” equivalent to 68 “free”.
            1)Scroll down Blog post of a sample of prisoners art most risk:link to wordpress
2) All  prisoners need sanitizers in their cells to use on material coming into the cells and surface cleaning ( 70% alcohol in a spritzer- very cheap or its equivalent) and good soap ( unused and wrapped).Those deemed unable to handle such material because of mental illness should be denied only with due process.

3) All indigent prisoners need to receive unused, wrapped soap. Also anywho request effective wrapped new soap should receive it,   

4) At minimum: test all those reporting symptoms of the virus and test all inmates in prisons where the virus has been confirmed in staff- WCI and CCI

5) Public disclosure of all who are ill with Covid like symptoms where there is no testing , of all who test positive where  there is testing, all who go to the hospital and all who die.

6) Serious consideration taken of prisoners’ complaints of Guard abuse of protocol. Deploy National Guard  to oversee guards  in prisons where abuses continue.

7) Release ALL prisoners over 58 and/or have prexisting conditions that make them extra vulnerable-
Most have families to go to who are waiting. For those that don’t ,volunteers can help do the phoning and internet work to make sure the soon to be released prisoners have healthy and stable place to go.

8) REAL DISCUSSIONS on ending the overcrowding and understaffing that makes this virus so dangerous must begin with focus on releasing all those eligible, ending revocations without felonies and creating an environment that makes prisons an attractive place to work for people who want to help.

Governor Evers, I know from hearing your campaign speeches that you are aware of the need for improved conditions in our prisons. I ask you to help, for there is urgent need to protect the lives of prisoner. You and possibly DOC Secretary Carr, are the only people in state administration who can act with necessary speed. Prisoners are in prison for punishment. This was not supposed to be a death sentence. These are abandoned and forgotten people. Even with all safety measure in place and wise releases, the virus will take its toll. We do not have to add to the numbers and heartache with negligence.

Reports from prisoners by prison

We are learning of conditions in Wisconsin prison from letters, phone calls, corrlinks emails (an email service tailored for the prison's needs) and families and friends of prisoners. On this page we'll include summaries or links to a few highlights. We'll also make a page for each prison, which will include mailing addresses so you can contact and support people through this struggle.

As of April 2, the DOC has confirmed COVID-19 exposures by staff members at 3 prisons: Waupun CI, and Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF), and Columbia CI. The DOC is occasionally dribbling out bits more information here.

Waupun CI 

WCI was the site of  first confirmed case of corona virus, a DOC doctor with a long history of negligence and mistreatment who had recently traveled to Italy tested positive.

From: DECARLOS YOUNG (421325) BD1977, 44

Date: 3/24/2020 7:21:31 AM
Subject: The Truth: Covid-19 In W.C.I

The staff here at Waupun Correctional Institution are lying to the public as well as placing our lives in danger. at this moment I will give you ONLY!!! the facts as we are living through this daily...
I know that most of you I am able to speak with over the phone.and due to the fact that I understand that its the staff here that process all emails. meaning they have the ability to stop this email from making it out of the prison. I will call those whom I speak to and rely this message. and depending on when you've received this message I may have spoken to you all already...
Its 3.23.20 10:32am I just got finish giving an on phone interview to "Kite Line" which is a radio station and podcast. and I'm going to tell you all the same thing that I told them. the TRUTH!!!...

The statement that was giving to the press was not true. and as myself and other prisoners find ourselves living through a daily situation where our lives are in danger how can I not speak on this serious issue...

This is a fact. and I myself found this out after I was at H.S.U (prison medical department) two weeks ago for a televisit from my doctor from Madison Wisconsin. and the staff was talking about it and you could see that one of them was clearly sick...

This is a lie there has been NO!!!major cleaning going on here. outside of the tier tenders (prisoner workers) being told to spray down the door handles something thats supposed to be done daily anyway. there has been nothing else done.they have been mopping the floors once a daily. this is still the same dirty prison it has been since I got here. on top of that I'm right here in front of the supply cabinets. and there are no gloves. there is no disinfectant if there is they only have a small amount most of the time they are using window cleaner in the place of disinfectant. and the only cell hall that they truly make sure is clean is the Southwest. and thats because thats the cell hall where they take film crews and their tours. also known as the honor cell hall where if there are issues of abuse to be spoken on there are only a few that would use their voice to do so.because for the most part you have a lot of bootlickas over there...
Then you have staff passing out medication without wearing masks or gloves. we just had a white shirt over here today wearing no mask nor gloves passing out medication. most people whom have sense refused their medication...

We were told today that we would no longer be allowed the four ten minute showers per week that we were allowed before this pandemic. we were told that we would only be given two ten minute showers per week during this covid-19 pandemic. and when we asked why we were told two things. 1).that it was so that we wouldn't be in the way of the daily cleaning. our response was as followed: what daily cleaning?. and one has nothing to do with the other if you all really did the cleaning thats being lied about to the public. 2).we were told that its because we all needed to be distanced from one another: to which we asked how can you distance someone whom has a cellie when there's no room to give everyone a personal cell. furthermore even if you could it still wouldn't work because the only cell hall that has an enclosure in the front is the north cell hall. the South, Southwest and Northwest cell hall's all have open front cell's.and even if they could give everyone a personal cell we still breathe the same recycled air. that blows the same hair and dead skin cells around 24/7 with the same highly laced radium cancer causing water coming out of the facet...

Everyday we hear rumors of some new staff members and or prisoners whom are supposed to have been proved to be positive. and as I said at the start of this of this statement I will give you ONLY!!! the I know them to until these new positive cases within the staff or prisoners comes out as valid information. I will not speak on it as if it is. because at the end of the day this is not about trying to lie or take a shot at staff. this is about telling the public the truth about what's really going on in here. because it may just save someone's life.when we allow the powers that be to continue to control the narrative and its only done for their own personal reasons (career advancement/money/political views/votes) nobody truly wins...
I know that many will say that I'm just a prisoner so why believe me?. I will only say this "I have nothing to gain other than my life,And I have nothing to loose other than my life". and if thats not good enough just listen to the many voices that are just like mine. whom all speak for those of us who can't speak for themselves or fear the retaliation if they do speak. I never allowed anyone to play with my life when I didn't understand the value of life. so why would I allow anyone to play with it now that I do!?!...
Sincerely.  Khalîq Young

many more testimonies from WCI
including mailing addresses so you can contact people directly.

Columbia CI 

Two staff members at CCI have tested positive according to latest (April 2) reports. See updated numbers here. By many measures CCI is Wisconsin's most horrific prison. This is where guards beat Kuan Barnett, where Joe Turney was sexually assaulted for being depressed, and where Warden Susan Novak's policies provoked violent conflicts and a deadly lockdown. With that history, we are especially worried about the extended COVID-19 lockdown at CCI.

Bill Ledford 80495 CCI
For the record, by this email, I give my permission for my name to be used as to anything I write about herein.
        I am a Type I insulin dependent diabetic within multiple heal  In short, I am at the top of the food chain for COVID-19.  I am currently confined in the Columbia Correctional Institution (CCI), probably the most troubled facility in the DOC.
th conditions, including COPD, a challenged immune system, heart disease, a double amputee (i.e. my feet) in a wheelchair, and am 57 years old.
        Because of my medical and physical conditions I was dumped in the Lower A Wing of Unit 6.  This wing has eleven other men, who, like me, were dumped in this facility and Wing due to being seriously chronically I'll, physically disabled or aged, mostly a combination of all three.  But Unit 6 is primarily an SMU (Special Management Unit) for the seriously mentally I'll.  The reason I and the others are in this unit and secluded is because it is the only place in the whole DOC which has an elevator, an elevator which breaks down on average of every month to month-and-a-half.  If we have an emergency or fall out of our wheelchairs we have absolutely no way to call for help other than to yell or bang on the door.  However, if we do that we are retaliated against by being written a conduct report for "disruptive conduct" (their "catch all" charge); if we bang on the door then staff will also impose what they call a "door inspection fee" of $25.00 (though no "inspection" is done) and/or a "door painting fee"  (I don't recall the amount).  Also, they recently confiscated the small wooden cell brooms from us so that we could not use them to bang on the door to signal/call for help.  However, they obdurately refuse to provide a means for us to call for and obtain assistance.  For example, on three separate occasions I filed formal DOC-2530 Reasonable Modification/Accommodation Requests under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to have an emergency notification system installed, such as a Life Alert system or emergency call button/light system.  In particular, Del. Warden Lucas Weber and then-ADA coordinator Pam Schmidt refused to follow policy and procedure, lied about staff actions on the unit, and refused to provide an emergency notification system.  And in at least one case the Institution Complaint Examiner (ICE) improperly interfered with my ability to exhaust remedies (not an uncommon event by ICEs).  All of this is well-documented.
         Furthermore, the DOC has been allocated $8 Million for a geriatric facility since 2017 Wis. Act 59 (see sec. 301.16(1ww), Stats.), but which has been amended to the renovation of an existing facility (I.e., Oak Hill Corr. Inst.).  It has been three years with no actual building or renovation being done to speak of.  Instead, I (we) are stuck in a lower wing of a mental health unit though we are general population (GP) prisoners.
        In addition, CCI is badly in need of nursing staff.  They are very short staffed and the turnover of nurses is great.  Part of the reason is the constant interference by the security and administration staff who, for all intents and purposes, run and control health services at CCI.  For example, during the November 8, 2019, lock down Warden Novak withheld the flu shots for several months.  Security determines what medications they want or don't want in the facilities due to possible abuse or misuse by prisoners (though in the past, security staff were often caught stealing medications until narcotics began being handed out by nursing staff).  Last year CCI got a new Health Service Manager (HSM) named Cindy Buchanan.  She came from the private sector.  In my experience and opinion she is a very decent person who listens to men and works hard to get men what they medically need.  I have had a good deal of interaction with her from the outset and she has always looked out for my interests.  Again, the problem exists with interference by administrative and supervisory staff.
        Now we are one doctor (out of two) short because she took off - at the beginning of the lockdown - for allegedly being fatigued, which is very possible.  Dr. Martha Masciopinto is one of the better prison doctors I have dealt with.  But now, with COVID-19 in the institution we have one doctor (whom nobody really likes) for over 800 prisoners.  We are not allowed any type of sanitizers whatsoever because they have alcohol in them.  When more cases of CV-19 appear -and they will - medical staff will be immediately overwhelmed.  The only "plan" the institution has is to completely lock us down with no real medical care.  As Mr. Turk suggested, it is unlikely that we will be allowed any hospitalization because we are prisoners.  We will be locked in cells with no real medical care or treatment, and it will be nothing more than "hope for the best, expect the worst."
       Ben says the DOC stopped transferring prisoners.  However, on 3-19-20 there were eleven (11) prisoners transferred to CCI.  According to a nurse and two guards they were held briefly in R & O, and then after be checked to see if they had any symptoms and then were sent immediately to the housing units!  Not a very brilliant  move, to say the least.  And staff are still doing pat searches!
      Phone calls and showers are being allowed and we were able to turn in our canteen orders (though we don't know if we will get the orders next Tuesday) and the memo was placed that we can spend $100.00 for the order (CCI is a bimonthly facility).  I just had a cashier's check for $1000.00 sent to Access to be credited to my account.  It should be there by Thursday, but we don't have any idea if Access will be doing business by then given all of the shut down orders being issued.
      I guess that is all for the moment.  I will provide more when and as it arises.
      Take care and be well, stay safe.Bill
More Reports from CCI

VINCENT JUDD-RAPP 665512 3/26/2020 4:33:50 PM GBCI ( bd1992)
Vincent Judd-Rapp
     I work as the Lead Clerk in the library, for both the recreational library side and the law library side, and volunteered to haul a cart of books up and down the various tiers of cells in each cell hall, and into the dorm, so that people can at least have something to read to help escape their environment and keep their minds active.
I was told, "We'll discuss it." That was on Wednesday. No response of any kind.
Meanwhile, breakfeasts have been only in bags and they have rapidly become smaller and smaller. When we began avoiding eating in our cells, which was before they locked us down, we would get the following in the bag breakfasts:

4 oz. of cold cereal
Muffin or Breakfast cake
Fresh fruit (apple, banana, orange)
2 Slices of wheat/rye bread
2 half ounce packets of peanut butter
2 half ounce packets of jelly
2 half pint cartons of milk

Ultimately, you'd, basically, end up with a small 4oz. bowl of cereal, a PB&J sandwich, a piece of fruit, a muffin, and a cup of milk.  A okay breakfast, right?
That lasted two days. Then the bags became smaller and smaller until, today, we were given:

A 4 oz. bowl of cereal (half full, so only about four or five bites worth)
2 Slices of wheat bread
1 half ounce packet of peanut butter (wasn't even even to cover a slice of bread)
2 half pint cartons of milk.

So, 4-5 bites of cereal, 2 slices of bread with not even a teaspoon worth of peanut butter on them, and some milk. At this  point, I'm wary of what they'll remove from the meal, if that's what it can be called, next.
Anyway, I'll send this to you now. If I receive any more news I'll pass it on to you. Thank you for your time. Vincent

                                                       SCI :
STANLEY IS A TICKING TIME BOMB- hundreds of elderly prisoners packed in
 Stanley is a ticking time bomb of disease, infection and death. There are hundreds of elderly and immune-compromised prisoners in Stanley, those most likely to die from COVID-19. How many will be left in cells to live or die by the strength of their immune system? There are not enough hospital beds in this rural area to meet the needs of free people. You can be sure hundreds of infected prisoners will not be transferred to hospitals for treatment. It is simply not feasible even if there was adequate bed space.
The only answer is to implement restrictions before COVID-19 comes to Stanley because once it does, it will be impossible to manage.

Mediums, Minimums, WRC  DCI etc:
CHRISTOPHER SIMPSON (482710)OSCI 3/21/2020 2:55:31 PM RE:Covid19: keeping yourself safe and strategies
        I am writing to inform you that I have filed an ICE for the taking away
of brooms at OSCI. The staff are telling us that sweeping your room spreads the covid19 virus, so we are only allowed to mop our rooms with a mop that every other inmate on the tier has used. However the janitors are still allowed to sweep the dayroom and restrooms with a standard bristle broom. It is ludicrous to deny use in one manner but for it to acceptable in another. Especially for me, I am a person who will be 49 in April, I also have severe COPD and need supplemental oxygen to breath. My respiratory system is pretty shot and I am sure that a virus like Covid19 is a death sentence for someone like me. The damage that would be done would be very bad if not terminal. I am very aware of the danger I am in! And unfortunately I see very little to no hope if the virus makes its way in here. We know that it is in Waupun correctional, and hear rumors that there are 2 cases in Columbia correctional. Let me close with 2 thoughts.
1) Thank-you all for all your efforts in all our areas of concern and for all the much needed information.
2) Please let everyone know that our hearts and prayers are with all of you out there as well. My our Heavenly Father keep His hand on you all as you continue to press on against the adversary. Please know that you have our support, hearts, and spirit fighting right along with you all. God bless us all. His will be done. In Jesus Christ name amen.

Waupun CI Response to COVID-19 Exposure: Lackadaisical and Punitive.

This report relies mainly on phone calls with our friend Elijah Prioleau, who is locked up inside Waupun Correctional Institution (WCI) on a 3 year revocation after spending 16 years trapped in Wisconsin prisons. Elijah has health conditions that make him especially vulnerable to COVID-19 and to the hardship of an extended lockdown. We demand that he, and others like him be released immediately and quarantined in a hospital or other facility that cares for people and tries to keep them alive. The Wisconsin prison system does not.

By speaking with us and bringing truth to the outside world, Elijah faces risk of retaliation. Please write him support letters, thanking him for helping raise awareness and protect people held in Wisconsin prisons. Receiving mail demonstrates to staff that Elijah has friends outside who will not stand by if he’s persecuted or silenced.

Write him here:

Leon Elijah Prioleau
Waupun Correctional Institution
PO Box 351
Waupun, WI 53963-0351

Elijah’s testimony is based on what he saw and heard about from the cell block. We researched background information to put his observations into context. We can see two things clearly:

  • First, Governor Evers and the DOC could have prevented this exposure if they’d cared to protect incarcerated people’s health and wellness over the last year.
  • Second, Warden Brian Foster at WCI and his staff are not taking serious action to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the facility.

We have received word that Columbia Correctional is also on lockdown after a food service worker tested positive for COVID-19. We expect that Warden Susan Novak's response will be as bad or worse that the WCI response described here.


 FFUP is just releasing a report that is the culmination of 20 years of work with prisoners and their families. Although it 's main focus is the torture that IS today's overuse and abuse of solitary confinement, it also delineates the history of how we evolved such a corrupt and soul destroying system and gives our suggestions for ways to heal. Here is a link to the report itself  and two recommendations . 

Click for report:

     This is a collection of extraordinary documents and information that addresses so many Wisconsin prison issues, as well as potential remedies and solutions. I was particularly struck by the WWRC - Wisconsin Women's Resource Center. This is what prisons look like, in my experience, when the focus is on the three legs of safety, rehabilitation and humanity. Far too often the focus in Wisconsin has been on punishment, forgetting that incarceration IS the punishment. Let us focus on using the shell of prison as a place where successful programs and experiences can offer growth. Other states and countries have successfully prepared prisoners to return to our communities. Isn't this what our state's "Purchase of Offender Goods and Services" budget should centrally focus on? Teach these individuals (many of whom have had horrific life experiences and daily face mental health challenges) how to function in and contribute to the world outside of prison. Flood the prisons (and release sites) with programs and services and interventions and family and humanity and caring! We would all benefit.

Judith Adrian, Ph.D.

Co-author with DarRen Morris, In Warm Blood: Prison & Privilege, Hurt & Heart (2014) Milwaukee: HenschelHAUS.


FORWARD by Bonnie Kerness, AFSC Prison Watch Program Director 1

         I have just finished reading “Torture in Wisconsin Prisons”, which is an extraordinary report featuring the work between FFUP (Forum for Understanding Prisons) and people in Wisconsin prisons. The Forum for Understanding Prison’s mandate is to act as a bridge between prisoners, their families and the outside world resulting in this crucial report for Wisconsin legislators, the media and other interested citizens. The detailed report on the Wisconsin Department of Correction’s use of solitary confinement is an important work reflecting, in an often heart breaking manner, the way in which the use of extended isolation impacts upon individuals and their family members  – and ultimately on wider society upon the release of people who most assuredly will be affected with symptoms of post-traumatic stress.

           The American Friends Service Committee Prison Watch Program has worked with psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, prisoners, their families and legislators from other states for many years – all in a common effort to abolish and/or set limits on the inappropriate use of solitary confinement, and the extremely harsh and often unhealthy conditions of confinement in solitary units.

         We, in New Jersey, did succeed in passing a bill that will limit the use of solitary confinement, called the Isolated Confinement Act. 2 Advocates and legislators know that the triumph of the bill’s passage is only a first step in terms of addressing the conditions in which people are held in solitary confinement in the state. Since its passage I continue to receive letters from prisoners noting angrily and accurately that nothing in the bill alters the conditions of confinement which often includes a culture of officer abuse and humiliation, of psychiatric neglect, of the development of permanent mental health symptoms of post traumatic stress, none of which is addressed in the legislation that Gov. Phil Murphy signed.

           Along with limiting the amount of time spent in solitary which the New Jersey legislation achieves, we want to move forward to provide an environment which does no further damage either mentally or physically to the people serving legal sentences. Separation from society is the punishment for the conviction of a crime – not unconscionable heat, filth, vermin and human cruelty. I don’t ever want to speak at another funeral of a prisoner who has died from heat stroke. I don’t ever want to receive another telephone call from a mom crying because her mentally ill child has been bitten by mice, crawled on by roaches and humiliation by officers. The AFSC Prison Watch receives testimonies from throughout the country replicating complaints by people in prison in Wisconsin. It is to the credit of States like Colorado, Montana, Maryland, Texas, Arkansas, New Mexico, and Georgia that such treatment and conditions are being addressed.  

          We, the outside community of advocates and those who have survived this treatment must and will push forward to alter and eventually abolish the mercilessness of these conditions of confinement. Over the years, I have found it important to remind myself that the Department of Corrections is more than a set of institutions, it is also a state of mind. That state of mind cannot be fully altered legislatively, and is exactly what formerly imprisoned, families, advocates and legislators need to monitor and address with conscientiousness. It is we, the collective citizenry that can provide and ensure true social change. We want people who have paid for their criminal behavior coming home healed, healthy and with the ability to fulfil their promise as human beings.

       This report is an important and valuable tool helping us to understand the racism and classism that results in the mentally ill, the poor, and largely people of color living in circumstances which have been deemed cruel and unnecessary by the international community. Solitary confinement makes us all “wardens” of the worst kind and maintains us, as the public, in violation of international standards and treaties. Wisconsin’s Forum for Understanding Prisons is to be lauded and emulated for this fine report. It is a model for the rest of the country. We are hoping that the State of Wisconsin joins others which have passed or are currently considering this most egregious assault to human dignity.

1 Bonnie Kerness, MSW, program director of the American Friends Service Committee Prison Watch.
89     Market Street, 6th floor; Newark, NJ 07102
American Friends Service Committee(AFSC) is a Quaker organization devoted to service, development and peace programs throughout the world.
The American Friends Service Committee Prison Watch program empowers individuals harmed by criminal legal system policies and violence to heal and transform the conditions under which they live.  Program staff disseminate public information on human rights abuses and healing opportunities; respond to needs of incarcerated people and those harmed by criminal acts; influence individual administrators and policy makers; and provide expertise to coalitions, advocacy groups, community organizations, students, writers, and the media. Our Prison Watch Program monitors human rights abuses in U.S. federal and state prisons. In particular, the program promotes national and international attention to the practices of isolation and torture. Find more Prison Watch resources here. (
2Text of bill limiting solitary in NJ: Isolated Confinement :Act:

  And here is again link to the report :

What is needed we are told by long time rehabilitates prisoner, is  change the basic revenge forever philosophy of the WI DOC . To do that we need to build a power base. If you want to get involved on any level, Email
peg Swan,FFUP founder

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