Monday Marks Fortieth Anniversary Of Waupun State Prison Riot

(Waupun) Monday marks a solemn anniversary in the city of Waupun. It has been 40 years since the prison riot at Waupun State Prison, which is now Waupun Correctional. It happened in 1983 and 15 people were taken hostage, including 11 civilians and four guards.  

Mayor Rohn Bishop says while no one was injured, the emotional scars lived on long afterwards. He says this anniversary reminds everyone that working in corrections can be a dangerous profession, and while many security improvements have been made over the decades and the prison has remained relatively quiet in recent years, they do not want to become complacent.  

As mayor, Bishop says he attends quarterly meetings at Dodge Correctional which helps air issues and address concerns about the prisons. 

“And these are really good opportunities to bring state elected officials…county people…Sheriff [Dale] Schmidt makes some of them…so it brings the city, the county, and the state…all of us into the same room,” says Bishop. “Everyone gets a moment to speak, questions can get brought up and then concerns can get aired out.” 

Bishop notes that one of the main issues highlighted during these meetings is staffing shortages. 

“They’re close to 50-percent vacancy…there’s lots of job offerings…if you’ve got a heartbeat and a brain and you’re somewhat competent they’ll want you to try out…they’re desperately needing help,” says Bishop. “Representative [Michael] Schraa is pushing for a $7-dollar an hour pay raise on what they’re making. So, you can be staring at $38-dollars an hour with state benefits including the retirement package. There’s a lot of good reasons to work there.” 

Bishop says those who work in corrections are underappreciated. 

“A lot of people put up the yard signs of ‘back the badge’ or they support law enforcement…people think of police and fire…they’re not thinking of corrections…because they’re not our patrolling,” says Bishop. “One of the ways that we keep our community’s safe is the bad guys go to jail. We need people to house them to and help take care of them and make sure that fights aren’t happening. It can be a dangerous job.” 

Bishop says Waupun has long played an important role in keeping Wisconsin safe, and they have a proud history of being the state’s “Prison City.”