Wisconsin Prison Task Force Update

(Beaver Dam) We received an update Friday on Community Comment from a member of the committee that is studying state prisons. Among other things, the goals of the prison task force are to tackle capacity issues with adult populations in state institutions and address the outdated Waupun and Green Bay prisons.

State Representative Mark Born tells us that he has several tours planned for this week including Waupun and additional visits to Kettle Moraine, Prairie du Chien and Fox Lake. He says a few of the prisons he has already visited include Green Bay, Oshkosh, Taycheedah and Oakhill.

Born says a big part of the discussion so far is on programming. Because of capacity issues, inmates are not able to be relocated to medium security prisons where treatment programs such as workforce development and substance abuse counseling are offered. The Beaver Dam Republican says those issues are prevalent in outdate prisons such as Waupun and Green Bay which were built in the 1800’s and were primarily designed for warehousing inmates.

Born says lowering recidivism – the rate at which convicts re-offend — can help with overcrowding issues, workforce shortages and save money in the long run. While the study is still in the early phases and is not clear whether certain prisons will be renovated, expanded or shut down, Born says there would still be opportunities for those who work in the corrections field. He says there are a significant number of prisons in Dodge County and the nearby area which should mean there will be plenty of employment opportunities available.

Born says even though the Lincoln Hills and Cooper Lake juvenile facilities will be closed, the prison study committee will still be looking at the best course of action for the building itself. He says that could mean turning the structure into a medium security prison for adults. The committee hopes to have their report finished before the capital budget this fall so Governor Scott Walker can consider any recommendations.