Warden And Eight Employees Charged After Deaths Of Inmates

(NewsSpace.com) – When someone goes to jail or prison, they retain their civil rights. However, some facilities have come under scrutiny in recent years for their run-down appearance or staff that ignores the inmates’ needs. Waupun Correctional Institution was one of those, and now nine of its staff members have been arrested and charged with serious offenses after multiple prisoners died last year.

In 2023, the Wisconsin Watch and The New York Times published a report about the treatment inmates at Waupun Correctional Institution endured. The maximum-security prison is home to approximately 1,000 prisoners. Last year, then-warden Randall Hepp put the facility on lockdown, which is common when there’s an existing threat. However, the lockdown lasted months, and the prisoners had to endure dirty cells, isolation, a lack of healthcare, and more during this time.

At the time of the report, the facility was severely understaffed by 40% to 50%. Even worse, The New York Times noted that prison officials and state lawmakers could have taken action years prior to addressing this shortage but failed to do so.

In the months after the August report, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel chronicled the troubles at the prison, including four inmate deaths. Dean Hoffman committed suicide in June 2023 after failing to receive his psychiatric medicine. Cameron Williams passed away from a stroke. A drug overdose killed Tyshun Lemons, and dehydration and malnutrition caused Donald Maier’s death.

Hepp recently left his position and has been charged with a felony count of misconduct in public office. Eight other staff members, including registered nurses and correctional officers, were charged with abuse of an inmate, while a sergeant and two correctional officers also faced misconduct charges. Several more are still under investigation.

Following their arrests, lead investigator Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt said, “We are operating the oldest prison in the state of Wisconsin in a dangerous and reckless manner.” Governor Tony Evers (D) said the accused, if found guilty of failing to do their jobs, “should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.”

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