Lawmakers pan Evers’ Wisconsin prison plans

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(The Center Square) – Not everyone is celebrating Gov. Tony Evers’ order that will change the day-to-day for inmates at prisons in Green Bay and Waupun.

The governor ordered an end to the months-long lockdown at both prisons and ordered a review of the prison population at Waupun.

Rep. David Steffen, R-Green Bay, said reducing the head count at Waupun may sound like a good idea, but it will likely create problems at other prisons across the state.

“Gov. Evers’ decision to relocate dangerous felons to other facilities that are also understaffed, overcapacity, or both, simply puts more communities and more staff in danger. Addressing the population issue at Waupun by further exacerbating capacity issues at other facilities is not a solution,” Steffen said.

Socialist state Rep. Ryan Clancy, D-Milwaukee, criticized the governor’s plan for not simply releasing inmates from the two prisons.

“I am grateful that the governor has seen the dire conditions in our state correctional institutions and has responded in good faith to our package of legislation and the concerns behind them with administrative effort. However, the package was created based on the lived experiences of the people we incarcerate. The stakes are too high not to have a more comprehensive and immediate response to these needs.” Clancy said in a statement.

He added that he is “not optimistic about the governor’s announcement, and wants to see the governor fulfill his promise to reduce incarceration.”

As of Nov. 10, there are 997 inmates at the maximum security prison in Waupun, and another 984 at the prison in Green Bay. Both are over capacity.

Steffen said instead of ordering another review, the governor should order a new prison be built.

“The governor’s directive to the Department of Corrections to further study and review plans for Waupun, after the state has already paid for two comprehensive studies of our prison facilities, is clearly a delay tactic to avoid making meaningful decisions,” Steffen said. “It’s time for Gov. Evers to stop passing the buck and show leadership by closing and replacing our 19th century prisons.”

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