Warden and Staff at Wisconsin Prison Face Charges in Connection with Inmate Deaths

Madison, Wisconsin – The warden of a maximum-security prison in Wisconsin, along with eight staff members, faced charges on Wednesday in connection with investigations into the deaths of four inmates over the past year. The charges ranged from misconduct in public office to inmate abuse, with three of the accused also facing additional charges of misconduct in public office. Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt, leading the investigation, expressed concern at a news conference about the dangerous and reckless manner in which the Waupun Correctional Institution was being operated.

According to Schmidt, the inmates faced severe neglect and mistreatment, leading to tragic outcomes. One inmate had his water turned off, went without food, and did not receive proper medical care before his death was ruled a homicide. In another case, an inmate suffered a stroke and lay dead in his cell for at least 12 hours before being discovered.

The warden, Randall Hepp, who could face up to 3½ years in prison if convicted, recently announced his plans to retire at the end of June. However, the issues at the prison extend beyond the inmate deaths, as investigations into a suspected smuggling ring involving prison employees were underway. The governor, in response to the filed charges, emphasized the importance of accountability and justice for those who failed to fulfill their duties.

Amid the ongoing investigations and lawsuits, multiple staff members at the prison are under internal scrutiny, while several others have been put on leave or have retired as a result of the probe that began a year ago. The Department of Corrections imposed a lockdown at Waupun, as well as prisons in Green Bay and Stanley, due to a shortage of guards, with conditions for inmates leading to a federal lawsuit alleging cruel and unusual punishment.

While Republican state lawmakers called for the closure of the Waupun and Green Bay prisons, concerns over the situation at the facilities remained. With internal and law enforcement investigations ongoing, authorities are working to ensure a thorough examination of the circumstances surrounding the inmate deaths and the overall operation of the institutions.