Wisconsin prisons relax solitary confinement policies

MADISON — Wisconsin prison officials have quietly relaxed solitary confinement policies over the past year.

According to a Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism report produced using documents obtained through an open records request and a lawsuit, the Department of Corrections no longer uses solitary confinement to punish prisoners who commit minor rule infractions. Prison officials also now negotiate with inmates over the proper punishment for such offenses.

The agency did not announce any of the changes publicly.

The documents also show the department is considering revising a policy that allows inmates to remain in solitary indefinitely until their behavior improves.

DOC Secretary Ed Wall sent a memo to agency employees in April 2014 saying inmates in solitary need rehabilitation and promising to develop better ways to deal with them.