Waupun prison gates, with no-visitors sign, in the middle of a residential area in Waupun. (Wisconsin Examiner photo)
A third death has been reported in Waupun Correctional Institution, the state’s oldest prison, a Department of Corrections (DOC) spokesperson confirmed Wednesday. The spokesperson was unable to provide more information until family notifications had been made. It is the third reported death in four months at the prison.
Waupun, a maximum security prison holding 1,000 men, according to DOC data, has been blanketed by controversy. Along with the Green Bay Correctional Institution, Waupun has been under a “modified movement,” or lockdown order for several months. The DOC says the lockdown has been in response to staffing shortages and behavioral issues among prison residents. The DOC’s vacancy dashboard shows that Waupun has a 52.8% staff vacancy rate.
The first of the three recent deaths was the apparent suicide of 60-year-old Dean Hoffman in June. The man, who, his family says, suffered from mental health issues, died in solitary confinement. Another death — 30-year-old Tyshun Lemons — followed in October, and is still under investigation.
More recently, a lawsuit was filed charging that the lockdown is a form of cruel and unusual punishment. Prison residents, according to the lawsuit, have been unable to access medical care, recreation, and other necessary services. Attorney Lonnie Story, who filed the class action lawsuit, told, Wisconsin Examiner earlier this week that he feared more people would lose their lives before the lockdown ended.
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