Prison Officials Charged in Wisconsin Inmate Deaths Scandal: Misconduct and Abuse Charges Filed

Madison, Wisconsin – The warden of a maximum-security prison in Waupun and eight of his staff members are facing charges related to the deaths of four inmates over the past year. One of the inmate deaths went unnoticed for at least 12 hours, raising concerns about the prison’s operations.

Waupun Correctional Institution’s warden, Randall Hepp, has been charged with misconduct in public office, while the other eight staff members face charges of inmate abuse and misconduct in public office. Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt, who led the investigation, expressed his concerns about the dangerous and reckless manner in which the prison was operating during a news conference.

According to Sheriff Schmidt, one inmate whose death was ruled a homicide had been deprived of water for a significant period, lacked close monitoring despite refusing to eat, and did not have direct contact with a doctor due to being in restrictive housing. Another inmate had a stroke and was found dead in his cell after at least 12 hours.

The ongoing investigation has revealed troubling details about the conditions at Waupun Correctional Institution. The state Department of Corrections is looking into the prison’s operations, while federal lawsuits have been filed in three of the four inmate deaths. Governor Tony Evers requested the U.S. Department of Justice to intervene last year, highlighting the seriousness of the situation.

Jared Hoy, who heads the Department of Corrections, stated that multiple staff members are under internal investigation, some are on administrative leave, and others have been fired or retired since the probe began. Sheriff Schmidt has emphasized the possibility of reopening the investigation for additional criminal charges based on the findings of the internal state probe.

In addition to the inmate deaths, an investigation is underway into a suspected smuggling ring involving prison employees at Waupun. The governor has promised accountability and justice for those responsible for failing to ensure the well-being of inmates. The situation has prompted calls from Republican lawmakers to consider closing the prisons in Waupun and Green Bay, citing concerns about the age and conditions of these facilities.