Waupun prison protest; inmates ask for better after staffers arrested

Inmates at Waupun Correctional Institution staged a sit-in protest over the conditions of their confinement on Thursday, June 6.

They said conditions haven't improved since the warden and eight other employees were arrested on Wednesday.

While it's quiet outside the walls of Wisconsin's oldest prison, inmates like Shawn Rowsey and Jermaine Smith-Capoeira tell a much different story on the inside.

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"The northwest cell hall is outside doing a peaceful protest, and they not going back in they cells," Rowsey said.

On Wednesday, Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt announced criminal charges against the former warden and eight other employees for failing to meet the basic needs of prisoners who died in their care.

Smith-Capoeira, who is serving a life sentence, said inmates are receiving cold meals and not getting access to proper medical care.


Waupun prison warden, 8 staff members charged following inmate death probe

Guards at Wisconsin's oldest maximum-security prison failed to provide basic care for inmates who died on their watch, authorities said Wednesday in announcing charges against the warden and eight members of his staff.

"They're saying that we're taking advantage of the situation, because we saw the warden on the news yesterday," Smith-Capoeira said. "All we specifically want is for the prison to go back to normal operations."

Attorney Lonnie Story is representing current inmates and the families of some who died at the prison in separate lawsuits.

"They were sentenced to prison," Story said. "They weren't sentenced to a life of living hell, and they weren't sentenced to a life of deprivation and abuse and neglect."

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He said the state should close the facility in favor of a different, more modern approach.

"It was established 10 years before the Civil War, and it's literally registered as a National Historic site," Story said.

The latest available data shows around 43% of the jobs at Waupun Correctional remain open. FOX6 News asked the Department of Corrections for comment on the protest but did not hear back.