Thursday, December 12, 2019

Makda Fessahaye response to lockdown concerns

On December 12, Makda Fessahaye sent this response to our emails and calls about conditions at CCI and especially the death of Muhhamad Bracey.

"Thank you for contacting us regarding your concerns about the unexpected death at Columbia Correctional Institution (CCI) on December 3, 2019.

The investigation into this man’s death has been referred to the Columbia County Sheriff’s Office and Medical Examiner, as is our standard practice. The DOC also conducts an internal review whenever someone in our care passes away. Both of these investigations are ongoing. Due to privacy laws and the ongoing nature of these investigations, we cannot provide any further information at this time.

Regarding the current status at CCI, here is the information we can provide:

CCI suspended administrative rules on November 8, 2019 (per Wis. Stat Admin Code 306.22 – 306.23), following a third assault against a staff member. During this time, investigators have been at the facility investigating the assaults, as well as any other credible threats of harm. Adults in custody at CCI were mostly confined to their cells. While the investigations were underway bagged meals were provided in-cell, there were no phone privileges, visitations, or canteen distributions.

That said, it is important to note what did occur during this time:
• Necessary health services and clinical appointments occurred within housing units rather than in the Health Services Unit.
• The men did have access to their tablets to keep in contact with their loved ones and specific instructions were provided about how to add funding to their accounts (as needed) to ensure uninterrupted service.  In addition, mail was continuously processed so letters could be sent to and received by family members.
• Scheduled court calls were facilitated.
• Showers resumed on a regular schedule on November 16, as well as the distribution of clean clothes.
• Supplies, including complaint forms, state issued soap and toothpaste were also provided.

Additionally, as of November 25, 2019, CCI began increasing a number of inmate related activities at the institution including:
• Visits with friends, family and outside contacts returned to regular procedures;
• Canteen items were distributed;
• Hot meals rather than bagged meals were provided;
• Minimum custody inmates resumed work in Food Service and are serving the food in the housing units;
• Laundry workers reported to work; and
• Phone usage resumed.

Beginning Monday, December 9th, CCI began to distribute new property orders for the incarcerated men. Also starting this week, meals are being served in the dayroom. The normal phone, shower, and recreation schedules have resumed for the Restrictive Housing Units. Attorney visits have resumed as well as social worker and other programmatic meetings.

The DOC is committed to working with law enforcement on their investigations and returning CCI to normal movement as soon as possible while maintaining the safety of those in our care and our staff.

Our staff share your passion for the safety and security of those in our custody. We encourage all of the people in our care to report any acts of misconduct through our inmate complaint process. Every inmate complete is investigated.

The Department of Corrections is committed to maintaining an environment free from discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. Any individuals who are found to have violated work rules will be held accountable.


Makda Fessahaye

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