Starving the Wisconsin prison system
accountability because nobody oversees the secretary.
Use common sense when asking yourself, what is the ultimate goal? The answer: privatization. The vacancies within the DOC are staggering enough to shut down activities in the prisons and create mandatory overtime, all at extra cost to taxpayers. Gov. Scott Walker has long lobbied for privatization and Wall is the tool he’s using to accomplish his goal.
As a career politician, Walker made it no secret that he supported private prisons. Corrections Corporation of America has been one of the major contributors to his political career. Walker was instrumental in the legislation that authorized sending prisoners out of state in the 1990s and early 2000s, when he headed the Committee on Corrections. He sent roughly 5,000 inmates to different states, at a cost of $45 million to Wisconsin taxpayers. When they returned to Wisconsin, they came back with PlayStations, Xboxes and — among other things — pornography. All of these were allowed by the corrections facilities. We no longer send inmates out to other states for a reason — it did not work.
Research has proven that private prisons are plagued with lack of security, falsifying records to cover up understaffing problems (much like we are experiencing now), prisoner abuse, staff assaults and riots. They ultimately cost the taxpayers more money than state-run prisons.
In 2010, three inmates escaped from a private prison in Arizona, kidnapped two tourists and burned their bodies in their own camper. State investigators found the perimeter of the prison was left unmonitored for 15 minutes at the beginning of every shift, with only one person responsible for monitoring the perimeter at the time of escape. So many false alarms went off that staff in the prisons ignored them and one-third of the security staff had less than three months on the job — with zero training.
Yet Walker lobbied for privatization anyhow. Even then Gov. Tommy Thompson did not approve of Walker’s plan and each time Walker introduced legislation to privatize prisons, it failed.
When giving thanks this season, please remember to thank your state employees who, in spite of dismal treatment, continue to show up for workday after day because they know your public safety falls squarely on their shoulders.
Christine Ewerdt is a resident of Waupun.