scroll down here for bulk of letters
Volunteers and/or staff and funds needed
In this time of global panic, sickness and strife. it is easy to forget the most vulnerable among us while we lick our own wounds. The term ”essential workers” hides a gruesome fact as it is the poor, usually minorities, that cannot afford the luxury of staying home- must go to work serving us in order to survive . They are the one’s dying along with the other groups hardest hit - those who cannot protect themselves, live in enclosed spaces-like nursing homes and prisons, where the virus is brought in by staff. For many of our prisoners, the term “persons in our care” has become a cruel joke :they say“What care?” ,and reports to FFUP and other organizations contradict almost completely the one we hear from the WI Department of Corrections(WIDOC). We have truly entered the world of the “survival of the fittest” where the virus wolves circle the herd picking off the weak.
Since the beginning of the pandemic activists and concern citizens have been calling for the universal use of masks, testing and that the prisoner be given adequate sanitizer and only now, when the virus is everywhere, are the national guard sent in to verify the hundreds of positive cases in each prison. And still prevention and treatment are a joke in most prisons, each fiefdom creating its own rules which mostly make little sense and are intended only to placate an uninterested public.
We need your help with our new “DEStress project , with answering phones , with web work and with funding. Overarching all our efforts is preparation for court action to get the prison population down to levels where the pandemic can be effectively handled. There have been two failed WI court attempts which we learn from and a successful in California, where the court has order the halving the population of the notorious prison SAN QUENTIN.
Here are some introductory links:
1) Court Decisions: a)San Quentin court decision demanding release of half the population. b)Decisions on the two failed WI attempts
2)Report by Volunteer Ben Turk in March 2020:
3)News Reports covering our “Covid Compassion Campaign”- our early effort by activists and families of prisoners to secure the release of those most vulnerable to the virus and later reports on widening spread of the disease.
4) links to applications for pardons made by prisoners in early months of the campaign. The Governor responded by removing the waiver application from the Pardon. We got a note saying there was no pardon/clemency for prisoners.
5) Statute giving full pardon powers to the Governor and links to pardons given by Governors in the past
6) Report on National attempts to deal with the virus in our prisons
For this writer, how we treat these “persons in our care” is of utmost important for they actually are ”persons in our care” and have NO WAY TO PROTECT THEMSELVES. Like one of the presidential candidates is at this time touting about the election, helping these “persons in our care” survive the pandemic and getting those most vulnerable out of there and back to their families is a struggle for the “soul of the nation.”
1) Phone help : FFUP founder keeps funded the LC Connections phone line to prisons funded and there are on average 10-15 calls a day- mostly needed is someone to talk to, these guys are terrified and they need to know someone cares. You would take down any brief messages(like the need for stamped envelopes) and perhaps take a few notes as you deem necessary, but the biggest need is just to listen and empathize- a chat line. FFUP would pay for phone upkeep and you can charge by hour for wages-to be negotiated
2) DEStress Project:
A)FUNDING NEED for craft supplies, book to read, coloring books and games.
B) Internet help -All items must be purchased from approved vendors. FFUP would pay for items, you could get hour wage or do as volunteer for doing the actual purchasing.
Anxiety and terror is sky high in our gulags. After hearing from prisoners of suicide attempts even in general population we started this project and basically ask prisoners what tools they need to help them cope- we have bought some tvs and radios for the most fragile but that is rare-mostly it is puzzle books and coloring books and craft supplies books to read- beads and crocheting , drawing and painting are popular. The prison ironically provides less and less the more needy the prisoner. Those most mentally ill get to be in the darkest dungeon and only get a crayon to write with. Punishment is the only reaction given to any behavior that is the slightest bit disruptive or disrespectful . A big success has been getting permission send in book with packing slip instead of paper receipt- this was a 15 year attempt.
Essay MAD DOG by WI longest serving solitary prisoner ( 20 years and counting) written in early years of WI supermax.
Our first and second DEStresS NEWSLETTER . This is put together and mailing is funded by a volunteer.
3) LEGAL PROJECT- Here we are looking for folks with interest in the law- toweb help organize this very successful beginning attempt to help prisoners learn the law- Here is application the prisoner fill out if they want to work a “prisoner litigator guide” and FFUP supplies guide books, stamped envelopes ,copies case look ups as needed- help needed here in all aspects. a)applications civil and criminal
4) Penpals- a perennial need . We provide forwarding service for those who do not want to give their real addresses. Need help reorganizing penpal blogs as well as letter writers. Corresponding with these prisoners is easily the most rewarding part of this work for you get to know people on a very deep level and love grows.
5) Money money money. Always needed – we have paypal site, a gofundme account where paypal pays the fee. And you can always donate straight to FFUP.
6) MOST NEEDED someone to do social media for us and basic internet- Anywhere you look on FFUP web, here is much help needed.( about 30 untended blogs for starters) We do have an enthusiastic possible leader of this project in a 20 year old soon to be released from prison- hope he will oversee anew effort.
Fi Invite all to post /share their letters and emails Finally, we thank prisoners for sharing their concerns for us and Jim Beadle for downloading many corrlinks complain, Gerard Rose for sharing his corrlinks correspondence and invite any one to send their emails and letters from prisoners and their families to us.
NOW TO PRISONERS’ REPORTS
Below we try to organize reports from prisoners in a readable format. They are heartrending for the terror is palpable. And they know exactly what is happening and that they can do nothing about it.
click here for reports in full organized by prison with WIDOC photos and profiles
See below for a snapshot of what prisoners are saying about their conditions:
1) This is one of the best description of how and why the virus spread so completely throughout the system. From the beginning we have been asking that prisoners be given adequate soap and disinfectant and that the staff is bringing in the covid. Since the virus is airborne prevention is all that could work. Ross takes us through the steps that happened in his medium custody prison.
I’m writing about my concerns about the situation here at Stanley correctional institution. WE now have a covid outbreak within the institution Three out of the five housing units are now locked down because of it. To start off, we had been tested in the spring and found to be covid free Shortly after, they implemented the use of masks, no visits, and limited movement, among other things. Then they started bringing in inmates that tested positive from minimums to house here. The reason behind this was the minimum security prisons were unable to quarantine sick inmates.
As time went on, the staff has continued acting carelessly, regularly removing masks to eat and drink. They interact with us without masks outside of the buildings. They claim to be tested daily by having their temps taken. I can’t see this being very effective when many stop at McDonalds or gas stations right before showing up for their shift. I know this because they eat what they had purchased right in front of us So who knows who they have come in contact with.
In the last couple weeks, the things have completely come off the rails. A kitchen staffer tested positive for covid only after being around inmates. We have had one guard repeatedly escorting groups of rookies in and out of all the housing units and people’s cells. A couple days ago, a white shirt was going from infected housing units to covid free units. He even went into random cells just to have a “look see.” This all trouble me since they clearly have no regards to spreading covid. They are not concerned with our well being or prevention of this horrible virus.
I don’t believe the DOC or this prison have any protocols for what’s taking place. Ow. The have so many people ( inmates) sick that now they are asking for volunteers to do various prisoner jobs They need everyone from plumbers to cooks in the kitchen.
They have no place to quarantine sick inmate. Instead, they are being held on their housing units with the healthy ones. These buildings have 1 central ventilation system so everyone is breathing the same air.
This place is short staffed and are requiring guards to work double shifts, often bouncing them around from unit to unit. This is further increasing the risks to us.
There is no social distancing at all. As I write this, I have 7guys around me. To make things worse, its been decided to take away our hot breakfasts. We also have had a few of the better meals taken away. Gone are eggs, oatmeal, chefs salads and turkey wraps. They are replacing them with more carbs and starches.
This has become unreal to me. My family and friends are concerned about my wellbeing. I’m non- violent offender with 14 months left. I have no institutional program needs. I am low risk with a minimum custody level. I’m cleared to go to a minimum but won’t get moved because of all this. I’m not even from this state. I live in Illinois where I have a home in the country, family, work, etc. I’d be safer there.
I am the first to say we all need to be accountable for our crimes. This is starting to get out of control. I feel like enough is enough, let me go home and quit putting me and others at risk. What in the hell is wrong with the powers that be? Do they make money on housing people? Do the not take into consideration the stress this adds to our families and friends? I understand that everyone Is going through this but do they ever stop to think if 400 inmates need urgent care at a hospital. What will they do? Overwhelm an already stressed hospital in the local area? Or just let guys suffer here? Things appear to get worse as time goes on. Would they rather let inmates die before releasing them?
I’m sick of this mess. People need t hear us and really think about this situation. We are not all bad people. Hundreds maybe even thousands in Wisconsin prisoners are just like me. Made a mistake, first time in prion and just trying t get back home to family to rebuild. How can I get this word out to the public? Are there any TV or paper that care about us> Are there any lawyers or judges to write? I know FFUP care but I want to do whatever I can because this isn’t right. I’m not here to get sick and possibly die or have long lasting health effect from covid. In my strong opinion, Tony Evers, the DOC and courts have really dropped the ball on this issue. It makes me mad. Feel free to use this in your newsletter or forum.
2) Panic at not being able to breathe.
Matthew Stechauner 378235 OSCI
10 17 20
Hello to you Peg. I tested positive for Covid-19 today 10-17-20. 75 guys on my unit tested positive for Covid-19. I been calling a lot of medical emergency and I can not breath, chest pain, loss of taste, smell, headaches. I feel like I am going to die. The HSU staff, medical staff are not treating my Covid-19 symptoms. I told my mom to call you. They moved me off my unti to a unit R where they put people with Covid-19 and they do not check on us much or medical staff do not check on us. I am scare for my life Peg. Our prison has the biggest Covid-19 out break do to these prison officials leaving us in unsafe conditions like leaving sick guys on units with guys who aint sick. We get know outside, rec, indoor rec, library. I got a court deadline and can not use library is crazy, Peg file a lawsuit and pay filing fee for me. I will file a lawsuit myself unless we do a class action. Peg contact lawyer Dawn Sabel at phone (920) 922-6814 address lawyer Dawn Sabel 76 S Macy Street Suite 2 Fond du Lac, Wi 54935. She does prisoners lawsuit cases, she assisted me before. I I am sending you a copy of letter lawyer Sabel sent me. I can not breath Peg. Call Warden, news, people in power, they putting my pulse was 124 and blood pressure was 160/74 and they will not take me to the hospital, Peg. Write me back right away, call my mom at (414) 892-0522
3)Quick note below sums up alot.
Chance Wallow, #458649, WCI
on Covid and Kitchen Work at Waupun Correctional.( WCI)
Also, on the phone you asked me to tell you about some of this Covid 19 stuff going on. Well, there are multiple inmates that have it in this institution. Just in this cell hall we have about 40. They are so short of people in the kitchen that they got a whole bunch of us volunteering. We started with about 21 people, now we are down to 12 people and we’re working 430am to 630pm. The southwest cell hall is the only cell hall that they are letting work. It’s very crazy and unethical the way they treat us here. I guess the positive thing about us working in the kitchen is we get to shower twice and we get to eat good and be out of our cell.
The thing that is getting to me and I’m not understanding is how so many inmates are catching Covid and they ain’t going nowhere.
( he works from 4:30am to6:30 pm, gets between19 and 35 cent an hour and most of it is taken for restitution- he ends up broke /but is grateful for the food and showers and out of cell time)
4)Here is another Kitchen worker, this time at OSCI ( Oshkosh prison), which expresses well the rage many of the more politically courageous feel. Ditto for this writer.
5)Two essays by anonymous OSCI prisoner, expressing some of the rage and frustration that is widespread.
“Slavery Is Still Legal in the Prison System”
I have heard the cries for social justice and equality out in society. I have seen the riots and protests fighting for equality. Yet here I sit in a Wisconsin Prison cell being paid 35 cents an hour. Most people make between 19 and 25 cents. That is sweatshop and slavery wages at the very least. How is it any different than it was 200 years ago? The prison staff are the slave owners feeding us meals that honestly would barely keep children alive, they give us a 2 inch mattress to lay on, and if we work, they pay us illegal sweatshop wages. How is that any different than the slavery and human rights violations of 200 years ago?
Now, because of prison overcrowding, 2 men in a room smaller than most of your bathrooms at home, the covid-19 has hit us and roughly 35% of the Oshkosh prison population have gotten Covid-19 so far...and people are starting to die because of it.
Add to that the fact that the prison staff have been using about 300 of these prisoners as Frontline Workers, risking their lives in the process...Paying them 19—35 cents an hour to face death. Slaves required to risk our lives working 16 hour days in most cases, which wears down the body, and makes you more likely to get sick. We are not given proper surgical gloves to keep us safe. We cannot wash our own personal laundry, leaving us with clothing that is covered in dirt and bacteria, and that is now falling apart because of this. They stopped letting us clean and disinfect our rooms, again, putting our lives at risk. And staff members are not allowed to only work one unit to stop the spread of covid from unit to unit. They work one 8 hour shift on a unit with 100 infected prisoners...A Hot Spot...then, they come to our unit to work here, without changing clothes and showering the bacteria off their bodies. There are many times a day when 8-10 officers are up on the deck where they sit, crammed into an 7x12 foot area...many times up there without masks on.
I came down the stairs on 3rd shift about a month ago, to see 2 officers up there (all night) without masks on, and when I got down the stairs, the one who was not our regular, who had already worked in another unit, proceeds to wipe his bare hand all the way from mid forearm down to his fingertips across his snotty nose. He then immediately went to typing on the computer and using the mouse...spreading the bacteria.
They have started making prisoners disinfect the phones in between each call...But, the workers doing this are wearing No Gloves...they grab the phone barehanded, then they wipe off the receiver with a rag in another bare hand, and then they place protective cellophane (shrink wrap) on the receiver with their bare hand. They wipe off the keyboard and hang the phone back up, declaring it properly disinfected. Those workers are spreading the disease, not getting rid of it.
So, to all of you fighting against social injustices, I ask you...why does slavery exist and yet you do nothing to stop it? These prisoners have families who love them...So why does no one do anything to protect us?
OSCI, Covid 19 Punishment
So, the reward for working as slaves on the frontline is that if we get a common cold, the flu, or Covid019, we are sent to segregation to be held for 14 days without a tv, radio, or tablet for email. Seg is the place where they send people to be punished, and now that is where they put prisoners who get sick from risking their lives as frontline workers for the prison system. So, our reward is to be thrown aside, into the trash if we get sick helping our own slavemasters operate the prison. If we don’t die from covid-19, then our reward is to return back into slavery on the frontlines risking our lives for pennies.
One more reward? They punish you further by trying to throw away your property when you go to seg. They incorporate this into part of the punishment anytime someone gets sent to seg. Most of the time they throw away legally purchased property, claiming it was stolen and gotten illegally. When you get back from seg, you have to file a complaint, providing receipts for all that they threw away, and then they refund you a prorated amount of value for each item based on when you bought it...and you lose hundreds of dollars in the process as they commit crimes against you and you can do nothing to stop it… nothing to fight it.
Last fall I was sent to seg for simply starting a religious fast based on my Christian beliefs. The ticket they gave me for contraband had almost $500 in personal property listed. They were trying to throw it all away. They forced me to eat, violating my right to practice my religion, and only that saved my property. When the seg officer realized that I had broken no rules and would be returned to my unit after only eating 3 straight meals, he put all my things back in the boxes and said he would leave it up to my unit to deal with the contraband.
When I got back to my unit, I grabbed all of my receipts to prove I owned all of it, and they had to amend the ticket and return all my belongings in except for my TV, which had a crack in its screen, so they forced me to throw it away giving me 7 days punishment for it being cracked. I simply kept it waiting for my new TV service, at least I could hear my TV shows.
That ticket, which is public record, proves that they rob prisoners of their property as part of the segregation punishment...trying to use this bit of illegal cruelty to teach you to fear breaking the rules. Now...This is part of their punishment for just getting sick.
I am personally hiding my symptoms because just like most prisoners are doing, I am trying to avoid the punishment process that they claim is to protect us.
Please Help Us!!
But protect my identity, as they always retaliate!
6) PRISONERS in general are fully aware that half measures are for public show only
a) Jermaine Hampton 406289 WCI 10 28 2020
Hi Mrs Swan:
Okay so there’s about 394 inmates at Waupun Correctional which have tested positive for the coronavirus 6 of which are hospitalized due to the security of Covid-19. The institution is still not taken this seriously they still are denying inmates the proper use of disinfectants. They expect us not to properly sanitize our living areas. They spray our towels twice in expect us to clean our rooms with it yet since the last outbreak we have not been allowed to clean our rooms at all cuz the institution is on lockdown and we are only allowed to shower once a week there’s no way the virus is going to leave this institution they are not cleaning the common areas used by staff or the inmates they are taken infected inmates from one unit in the institution and placing them in another part which only makes the other inmates in that unit sick from the virus yet the staff are not listening to our demands and our health is being ignored completely. I am in constant fear that I might die I have several health issues and I have already tested positive and I was not treated at all, no vaccine no medication. I was moved to the north cell hall in expected to stay in my cell and I was not even allowed to shower and I am still experiencing systems now. And I was not treated they took my vitals and told me to drink plenty of water, my kidneys hurt, I had a headache for the last week and I get tylenol for other injuries so I take them but they don't work, my back hurt my throat hurt I feel dizzy. And I am really afraid I will die because they are not doing anything to help us.
I wrote up that inmate grievance complaint like you told me to do in I mailed it to you I will mail you a copy of the decision and the appeal. Keep in touch. Also, did you check on that book yet?
PS I pray all is well with you and your family and friends, god bless you Peg you are my blessings. Thank you for all that you do I got that paper in envelopes too thank you very much you have to send me the complaint and acknowledgement paper back ok, for the inmate grievance complaint make you a copy.
b) Tuesday 10 27 20 Faheem WCI
Ms Peg, how are you doing? I trust and hope you are in great health and good spirits up arrival of this letter.
Ones writing to let you know what’s going on with me and my situation. I was tested positive for Covid-19 virus on 10/20/20 and it felt as if I was going to do. I had bad headaches, eyes burning, couldn’t breath, taste and smell gone, I still don’t have any smell or taste. My body still aches and is fatigued. You know I had filed for that compassionate release back in June and I feel this should compel them to get us out of prison, because I fear if I get this virus a second time I will die! They are not equipped or competent enough to deal with this virus. I just seen Waupun on Fox 6 News and they acknowledge that it’s overcrowded and Fessahaye says it’s against the law to have prisoners in double cells especially with this Covid-19 virus and prisoners are getting it by being forced to be in a cell with another prisoner.
I am PRC’d out of this prison and been locked up for two plus years, yet they saying I will be here for a year before I’m moved this is Krazy!
Well, Peg ones will close this and get it out to you in hopes you can give us incited on what move I should make next because I shall be release for I am old-law and they need bed space.
Peace and Love
7)and a few of the death reports
a)Michael Garcia-Soto 431861 NLCI 10 21 20/
Hey its a sad day here? Curtis Schmidt died
today I heard from inmates I'm sure due to covid-19 with his health problems. I
was pretty good friends with Curtis and its very sad but I'm also very mad for
a lot of reasons. Curtis told me after they denied him from getting out early
that he would probably die in here from covid-19.
That makes me very mad for a lot of reasons and a ton of inmates on this unit pissed off and think someone should be charged for negligence on how covid-19 was handled down on our unit. That lead to the death of Curtis Schmidt. Positive covid-19 inmates were always kept on the unit in quarantine around not positive inmates. Putting Curtis in danger and other inmates. They kept moving inmates around on the unit spreading the virus and pissing off inmates at the same time. Curtis only had a few months left in here. Well the DOC and Governor Tony Evers just gave him a life sentence of death thanks to not granting him his early release. Its very sad! That someone had to die from this covid-19 that was supposed to go home to his family with only a few months to go.
I'm also pissed at all the lies and disrespect around here. A few inmates found out that the Oshkosh correctional inst. Lied to the public and having there people print off the false lies and having them sent in to the prison from websites. Like k-building's covid-19 inmates were NEVER all moved off the unit in isolation to protect non-covid-19 inmates. So here's an example I tested positive for covid-19 my cellie tested negative but be didn't get those test results back for 72 hours or 3 days so my cellie then got moved after those three days of being in with me who's positive to another negative inmates cell that was negative too. Now tell me that is the best way of spreading a covid-19 virus. We told the staff that and they still moved him that this was part of the game plan. Now can you see why I'm mad and the negligence here. That probably played a part in Curtis Schmidt's death or getting covid-19. They lied to the news my mom saw on TV on channel 2 news said they were giving inmates 5 free phone calls due to covid-19 pandemic that was a lie reported by the news. Who told them that? I can barely make a call or 2 if I'm lucky a week. The phones stay not being used. Oh don't get me started on phones either so we used to do time slots for the phones so we can call our families at a reasonable time. Meaning my mom works 3rd shift she sleeps in the after noon so I try to call her in the mornings so she can sleep the rest of the day for her to get up for work. According to the staff the unit manager took away these time slots which worked good for the inmates and the families on the streets and told the staff to just go down the teir knocking on doors telling inmates they can now use the phone. Not taking any consideration for that inmate's family members who can only answer the phone at a certain time because they have lives of their own and work too. Why stop time slot sign up when it was working? I know why because it pisses inmates off! K-building is turning into a hornets nest a lot of inmates are very on edge. Some been snapping but I've heard and seen why they getting mad. A lot come to me for advice. I tell them to stay calm but not sure how long that will last. They don't like being disrespected. Staff would just tell them " your acting entitled". Using group terms against inmates not hearing them out.
The game plan so far I've seen down here is.
1) no cleaning supplies given out to clean cells
2) two showers a week if you not a worker
3) 2 phone calls a week no time slots make call when staff gets you
4) no doing personal laundry so piles up in your dirty cell get caught doing in in shower or sink you get a conduct report
5)working inmates 7 days a week ( some inmates think they will get more pay for doing this as they think it was promised to them but true be that is another "lie" and when they find out on payday will be super pissed off)
6) no looking at property catalogs right now so inmates can't buy personal property from in here cause they don't know the prices let contractors know JL Marcus and Union Supply they won't let catalogs come in mail to inmates if sent in.
I'm sure there's a lot more but you get the idea of what is going on here at Oshkosh correctional inst. A lot of inmates are getting super mad about this and its only going to get worse before better. Staff blame the unit manager for these things say we can't do nothing about it. It's up to the unit manager. Staff is getting mad too you don't think I hear what they say about each other. No communication here! Thats problem #1! I think everyone should be clean, showers, cleaning cells, doing laundry, and doing their best to stay clean to stop the spread not have weeks of dirty laundry in cells, moved around to spread the virus (if your going to move them move them to a covid-19 quarantine unit) the CDC says to stay clean . but I do understand there's no extra room in the DOC prison system because they never let anyone out early. It's overpopulated and covid-19 will take lives and bring down that prison population which I think is the real game plan because our prison system is broken and nobody wants to fix it nobody cares.
Everyone's running around crazy here trying to come up with a plan but there never was one it was too late and it spread like wildfire when it got in here. But you know what Governor Tony Evers did he blasted the DOC staff here all over Fox news station saying the only reason covid-19 spread through Oshkosh correctional inst was because of the staff. Shows how much he cares. He don't care about inmates or staff that work for him. Thats so disrespectful on so many levels. Everyone needs to be respectful to each other and come up with a plan because from what I'm seeing here inmates and staff are not on the same page and aren't getting along. Even staff ain't getting along with staff.
I hope everything gets better here and hope the truth comes out about what's really going on here don't believe the fake news media or what you read online that things are under control here because they are "not" it's a huge mess. I pray that everyone is OK in here and if you have a loved one in here you better call to see if they OK if you haven't heard from them in awhile. I pray that things get better and things get worked out here before more people die. Pray for inmate Curtis Schmidt's family there loss is sad and didn't need to happen.
Thanks for reading my concerns here. I have the freedom of speech. Adam
b)Dave Olson reports of a death of his friend after writing me twice about his sickness with no response.for me Did I get the letter? Maybe, I get between 15 and 20 letters a day and do only my best- My greatest wish is to see an organization structure and effective enough that I canbe only intake worker and can respond better to these "persons in our care."
I have called mark;s family and ffup will help getting Mark's body/ashes home if that is possible
rescan letter better and post.
To post where most of prisoners' reports are linked along with DOC photos and profiles
To post where most of prisoners' reports are linked along with DOC photos and profiles
a rough draft of our covid lawsuit goals and the problems it will address.
a rough draft of our covid lawsuit goals and the problems it will address.