Daily Bread for 8.20.23: Waupun Correctional Becomes a National Embarrassment

Good morning.

Sunday in Whitewater will be mostly sunny with a high of 92. Sunrise is 6:07 AM and sunset 7:48 PM for 13h 41m 23s of daytime. The moon is a waxing crescent with 14.9% of its visible disk illuminated.

On this day in 1794, the Battle of the Fallen Timbers leads to political shifts over control of the southern Great Lakes:

The battle took place amid trees toppled by a tornado near the Maumee River in northwestern Ohio at the site of the present-day city of Maumee, Ohio.

Major General “Mad Anthony” Wayne’s Legion of the United States, supported by General Charles Scott’s Kentucky Militia, were victorious against a combined Native American force of Shawnee under Blue Jacket, Ottawas under Egushawa, and many others. The battle was brief, lasting little more than one hour, but it scattered the confederated Native forces.

The U.S. victory ended major hostilities in the region. The following Treaty of Greenville and Jay Treaty forced Native American displacement from most of modern-day Ohio, opening it to White American settlement, along with withdrawal of the British presence from the southern Great Lakes region of the United States.

Wisconsin finds itself in the national news over conditions of the Waupun Correctional Institution. Mario Koran reports Inside a ‘Nightmare’ Lockdown at a Wisconsin Prison (‘Inmates who have been confined mostly to their cells for more than four months describe unsanitary conditions and a dearth of medical care. Experts say dire staffing shortages are likely to blame and are leading to lockdowns across the country’): 

Prisoners locked in their cells for days on end report walls speckled with feces and blood. Birds have moved in, leaving droppings on the food trays and ice bags handed out to keep inmates cool. Blocked from visiting the law library, prisoners say they have missed court deadlines and jeopardized appeals. Unable to access toilet paper, one prisoner tore his clothing into patches to use for tissue.

One thousand inmates incarcerated at Waupun Correctional Institution, a maximum-security prison in southeast Wisconsin, have been confined mostly to their cells for more than four months, ever since prison officials locked down the facility and halted many programs and services.

More than two dozen inmates at Waupun, the state’s oldest prison, have revealed to The New York Times that since late March they have been forced to eat all meals in their cells, received no visits from friends or family, seen complaints of pain ignored and been allowed limited, if any, fresh air or recreation time.

The state’s Department of Corrections has offered little explanation about the lockdown or why it has lasted so long.


More than half of the prison’s 284 full-time positions for correctional officers and sergeants remain unfilled, state data shows. The shortages have severely hobbled the facility’s ability to operate safely, according to former wardens, correctional officers and members of Waupun prison’s community board.

“If I was the warden right now, I’d have that institution on lockdown, too,” said Mike Thurmer, who once ran the prison and now sits on its community relations board. “You can’t have a 40 or 50 percent vacancy rate and not have at the very minimum a modified lockdown.”

What is happening in Waupun illustrates a reality at prisons across the country: Lockdowns, once a rare action taken in a crisis, are becoming a common way to deal with chronic staffing and budget shortages.

Government is obligated to fill the positions for which it rationally budgets. If it has budgeted incorrectly, planners must be held accountable for poor planning. If it has failed to fill positions, managers must be held accountable for failure to achieve employment targets.

Whether corrections officers, construction crews, or crossing guards, those responsible for planning and execution are obligated to meet defined, approved targets.

It’s easier for Russia to kill in Ukraine than to land a robot on the moon. Russia’s Luna-25 spacecraft crashes into moon:

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