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The introduction and executive summary are below:
- The DOC had significantly more guards (1,094 more) at the end of the research period than the beginning.
- Wisconsin’s prison population also increased during that time period, but at a slower rate, so guard staff levels increased relative to the population. In August of 2013, there were 7.36 incarcerated people per guard, in August 2018 the ratio dropped to 5.78.
- This ratio approximates the national average (5.1 to 1). Federal prisons operate with a ratio of 10.3 incarcerated people per guard.
- Overcrowding was high and increased over the research period, from 129% to 134% of design capacity in adult institutions.
- Suicides among people who are imprisoned rose from an average of 2 per year to 12 in 2016.
- This suicide rate remained elevated (6 per year) through 2017 and 2018.
- Rates of death for imprisoned people from all causes increased significantly after adjusting for increasing prisoner populations over the research period.
- Turnover for guards is high and grew over the research period (from 17.8% to 26.1% annually).
- A large majority of terminations were guards quitting, frequently without notice.
- While the number of guards rose, the number of other positions (such as social workers, medical technicians, psychiatric staff, and administration) fell by 1,584 people.
- The DOC’s contracts to private vendors increased dramatically during the research period (from 1 contract worth $2.5 million to 2,798 contracts worth $805 million). Many of these contracts were for temporary workers to replace non-guard staff, contributing to instability and insecurity.
- Reform the parole commission to rapidly release thousands of people sentenced under the old law.
- Expand the criteria for pardons to include people who are currently incarcerated, and release many of them.
- Expand compassionate release, allowing aging people to rejoin their families and escape the DOC’s substandard medical treatment which is causing premature death.
- Expand Treatment Alternative and Diversion (TAD) programs to reduce incarceration.
- Rein in the Division of Community Corrections (DCC) to reduce incarceration of people on supervision: cease crimeless revocations, investigation holds, and incarceration during treatment and alternative to revocation (ATR) programs.
- Rein in the police and District Attorneys especially in Milwaukee and Madison. Saturation policing and aggressive prosecution will continually overcrowd Wisconsin prisons.
- Close and demolish the ancient Green Bay and Waupun Correctional facilities, which are in disrepair and the Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility (MSDF) which is poorly designed and occupying valuable land in downtown Milwaukee.
- Convert 2-3 other prisons into mental health facilities under the control of the Department of Health Services following the model of the Wisconsin Resource Center (WRC).
- Divest from prison and invest in supportive, wholesome, community-focused growth in both urban communities targeted by the prison system and the rural communities addicted to it.