In response to a five-month investigation that turned up allegations of staff-on-inmate abuse in the segregation unit of Wisconsin’s Waupun Correctional Institution, faith leaders demanded yesterday that Gov. Scott Walker request an independent investigation of solitary confinement practices at Waupun and in prisons throughout the state, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Twenty-eight of the 40 allegations identified in a report by the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism in Madison involve a single guard. He is accused of physical and psychological abuses against inmates including knee strikes, choke holds, wall slams, racial slurs and genital touching during strip-searches.
“This is yet another case of how the Wisconsin Department of Corrections is out of control,” said the Rev. Jerry Hancock, a former Dane County deputy district attorney who heads the Prison Ministry Project for the United Church of Christ. A group called WISDOM, composed of 10 congregation-based community organizations, said Walker should request a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into alleged abuses in the segregation unit at Waupun, transfer the guard involved in the majority of the complaints to other duties and increase mental health services for inmates , rotate segregation unit guards, add training for dealing with “difficult prisoners” and introduce an independent complaint system for inmates.