Sunday, March 25, 2012

Help Support Our Correction Officers

At the end of last year, I told you of the plight of the state correction officers.

Just as he did in Milwaukee County, Scott Walker has driven many of the experienced correction officers out with his draconian and maleficent cuts.  He then willfully left this gap unfilled and the same things that happened in Milwaukee County are now happening statewide.

To make matters worse, the repeal of Act 28, which allowed early release under supervision, has taken away one of the few effective tools in keeping control of the inmates.

The results are predictable.  Because they feel they have nothing left to lose, inmate fights and assaults on officers are spiking.  Injuries are increasing because there's simply not enough officers to safely do that already dangerous job.  Another thing which was to be expected is more escapes, which endanger public safety and use up precious local resources as the local police and sheriff departments capture the escapees.

Not only is it dangerous, but the state is now racking up overtime costs like crazy.  I've heard that Joint Finance Committee just looked authorizing millions of dollars to cover these escalating costs.

And to literally add insult to injury, Walker's hand-chosen regent, Secretary of Corrections Gary Hamblin, has turned DOC into his own little fiefdom, not giving a damn about anything but his own inflated ego and power tripping.

This petty tyrant has done just about everything he could to further dampen all morale and is such a base man that he has ordered things like letters of gratitude from local Boys and Girls Clubs, thanking the Locals for their support, be taken down and removed from the building.

The union, still keeping to the high road, sent a letter to Hamblin asking to speak to him about these concerns, especially officer safety.  Hamblin ignored them.

They again reached out to Hamblin, asking to speak to him about their concerns regarding having to sign acknowledgement of receiving his draconian handbook with only being able to add "under duress" by their signatures.  He again refused to reply, but apparently that restriction has since been lifted and officers are able to express their concerns fully and have them in their personnel file.  This is important in case of any future injuries or wrongful firings.

In response to Hamblin turning a deaf ear to them, the union issued a press release regarding their unacceptable and unsafe working conditions (proof positive why unions are still necessary!), which reads in part:
“By trying to make state workers into public enemies, Scott Walker flushed a lot good officers and experience out of the system,” said Dan Meehan, a 30-year veteran of the department who works at Waupun Correctional Institution. 
“Walker’s administration hasn’t come close to filling the void they’ve created. As a result, it’s become a lot harder and a lot more dangerous to deal with the people who really are public enemies. This not only puts officers at risk, it threatens the safety of our communities,” said Meehan, who serves as president of Wisconsin State Employees Union Local 18. 
In addition to causing an exodus of experienced staff without any serious effort to replace the talent that’s been lost, the administration has put a torch to work rules and local agreements once covered by negotiated contracts. This means established procedures are replaced by arbitrary and inconsistent pronouncements from above, often from bureaucrats far removed from the day-to-day realities inside the institutions. 
“They’ve replaced labor-management collaboration and cooperation with top down ideology. If given the choice between using a handshake or a hammer, they are going to use the hammer. It’s a bad way to treat people and it’s killing morale. Our jobs are hard enough without being treated like dirt by everybody. We expect it from the inmates, but it shouldn’t also be raining down from above,” Meehan said.
Unsurprisingly, the corporate media in the state have not covered this important story, especially as Walker's recall looms.

So the unions again are taking matters in their own hands and are holding a series of informational pickets and rallies around the state:

The rallies will be as follows:

On March 27, from 12:30 - 4:30 pm, at the Waupun Correctional Institution

On April 9, from 12:30 - 3 pm, at the Jackson Correctional Institution

On April 30, from 12:30 - 3 pm, at the Taycheedah Correctional Institution

While the entire state has suffered under Walker's tyrannical regime, regardless whether we are public or private sector workers or unemployed, regardless whether we belong to a union or not.  We have all suffered to some degree.

But our corrections officers have not only felt the same economic pains we all have, but they're putting their safety and yes, their lives, on the lines for all of us.  And now it is even more dangerous for them.

For all they've done to keep us safe, it's the least we can do to stand with them when they need us.


  1. This is a very under reported topic all around.

    I think the statement that makes mention of the management being so far removed from the ground level is something that is echoing true across many industries, too.

  2. I am a Correctional Sgt. And I thank you for writing this piece.Everyone forgets about us fighting crime each day. Thanks!

    1. hang in their brother,help is on the way.

    2. Thank you for your service, Sarge. I did 3 1/2 years in the Milwaukee County House of Correction and so I know how bad Walker can make things.

      Stay strong. We're working on fixing things.

  3. Sgt., thanks for your service.

  4. As an AFSCME member, and a state (Corrections) retiree, I want to attend these rallies. We need to get the word out to the media in Wisconsin. The men, and women I worked with were hard-working, smart, safety-minded individuals. Their bravery, and dedication was apparent every day on that job. Simply put, these people do NOT deserve this unfair treatment, and they need a union-voice in their work-place. These are human beings performing a tough job in a harsh environment, most people would refuse to work in. They are skilled professionals, and they deserve our respect!! Walker's policies are placing inhumane burdens on them, such as ever-increasing, forced overtime, with any voice in their working conditions evaporating. This absurd working environment, created by right-wing, unrealistic policies, is not only very unfair to correctional officers, it is creating an environment that is increasingly dangerous to anyone involved in corrections. (I find it very hard to believe, that if the general public knew about the increasingly dangerous conditions Walker's policies have created in the correctional work-place, that they would approve of, or support any of those policies.) It is also very unfair to the general public that pays taxes. Walker's, and his Republican lock-steppers extremist policies, have actually increased the cost to taxpayers, while they obscure this fact from the public. (IE...Overtime budget soars through the roof.)
    We need to bring our unions back to corrections in Wisconsin, and we need to bring our unions back to ALL hard working voters, taxpayers, and citizens of this state. I'm willing to stand up for my fellow Wisconsin citizens, and for our corectional officers. *One last thought...An ever-increasing environment of danger in Wisconsin's correctional system because of Walker's radical policies, is not only dangerous to correctional officers, and other correctional staff, but it endangers the safety of the inmates that correctional officers are obliged to protect. Walker, and other elected radicals, are making it impossible to maintain a safe, security oriented work-place (environment) in the Wisconsin Department Of Corrections. Let's stand-up for our fellow Wiconsin citizens. Enough is already too much!

  5. This is really sad to see. I don't think this is the real Gary Hamblin, although if he is going along with Walker's pressure, that doesn't say much in his favor either.

    But he always seemed like a good guy when he was here in Dane County, as evidenced by the fact that the last few times he ran for re-election, he was unopposed. As far as I know, he was really the anti-David Clarke as Dane County Sheriff.