Mark Rice speaks out against using the National Guard to fill Wisconsin prison staffing shortages

December 29, 2023

“Some advocates and families are asking Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers to deploy the Wisconsin National Guard in prisons throughout the state to relieve chronic staffing shortages.

“According to the most recent data from the Wisconsin Department of Corrections, the vacancy rate for correctional officers and sergeants for adult facilities in the state is roughly 29%.

“Some advocates say that the vacancy rate has created problems for those who are incarcerated.

Wisconsin could … close several prisons and redirect resources to build safer, stronger and healthier communities

“[Incarcerated people], for example, have reported bird droppings on food trays, reduced access to showers and insufficient medical care, among other issues, according to a New York Times article.

“In addition, a class action lawsuit filed on behalf of [people incarcerated] at Waupun Correctional Institution said that [they] are routinely confined to their cells for up to 24 hours a day.

“The suit alleged they are not provided with regular services and programming, including family visits, religious services and educational resources.

“This degree of confinement is often referred to as a ‘lockdown’ by [those incarcerated] and their advocates, but the Department of Corrections refers to the practice as ‘modified movement.’ …

“‘If Wisconsin policymakers began to immediately enact common sense policies to reduce the prison population, there would be no need to use the National Guard,’ said Mark Rice [Leading with Conviction™ 2017], Wisconsin transformational justice campaign coordinator at WISDOM.

“‘Wisconsin could then close several prisons and redirect resources to build safer, stronger and healthier communities,’ Rice said.”

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