Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Cover Up In Corrections

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting that the number of assaults on prison staff members have spiked sharply at the beginning of 2012:
Inmate assaults on prison staff appear to be up significantly, but the nature and extent of the increase is unknown because of poor information gathering at state institutions, according to the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.

The agency is aware of 84 assaults in the first four months of this year - up from a known 55 assaults in the first four months of 2011 and a known 58 assaults in the first four months of 2010. Some recent assaults are serious, including one where an inmate charged at and struck a staff member with a makeshift weapon.

"We're taking a hard look at every one," corrections Secretary Gary Hamblin said.
Hamblin then tried to explain this spike as just part of the normal ebb and flow of things and that there was no cause to it.

The unions disagreed, pointing to Act 10 as being a major factor in it.

Hamblin then adds insult to injury by arrogantly waving that off with a real asinine comment:
Hamblin said he has reviewed whether the changes to collective bargaining have influenced the increase in assaults and said they have not.

"It's not a case where inmates are taunting officers" about having to pay more for insurance or less job security, said Hamblin, a former Dane County sheriff who served at the Department of Justice before taking over the Department of Corrections for Walker last year.
All I can say is that Hamblin is as full of crap as a ten year old outhouse.

As early as the end of 2011, not only was I pointing out to the increase in assaults, but I also explained why it was happening:
Due to his punitive Act 10, Walker has inspired a higher number of retirements than has been seen by the state before. And because of the poor way he treats public employees, they are having a very difficult time filling the empty positions. And even when they do find someone to try the job, they do not have the experience of the officers they're replacing.

On top of that, Walker's push to repeal the early release program has only made things worse. Recently, four officers at the Dodge Correctional Institute were injured. The inmates no longer have a reason to be on good behavior and are taking out their frustration on anger on the only people available to them, the correction officers:
“With changes in sentence structure due to Truth in Sentencing laws and the recent repeal of Act 28 (a provision that allows for the early release of some inmates), many inmates feel they have no options,” said Phil Briski, union president at DCI. “The inmate that left one of our officers with serious injuries said he had no hope of getting out of prison and was going to assault a staff member no matter where he was (incarcerated). They’re stuck in here for longer periods of time, and we’re the ones who are going to pay for it.”

Briski thinks the low incidence of uprisings in Wisconsin correctional institutions over the years has been due to a highly trained, experienced staff.
“With the contempt that’s been shown to us, people don’t care as much. They figure there’s no benefit to being above average,” Briski said. “Things are going to slip, and there’s going to be mistakes made due to the turnover in staff, overcrowding of prisons and the legislature’s failure to deal with the issues.”
I again spoke about the concern about growing number of assaults on the corrections officers in April.

And I have already written on why Walker is allowing this to happen. Just like he is doing with the veterans centers, Walker is forcing the corrections system into an inevitable failure so that he can privatize it. It doesn't matter to him that private prisons have horrid records of failure or that they are more expensive than publicly operated prisons. The only thing that matters is sending more and more of our tax dollars to the corporations that have supported his life long political career.

As if lying about the assaults happening or their causes weren't enough, Hamblin really buries himself by stating that the reported numbers of assaults were inaccurate because of the reporting system:
Hamblin said that when he took office last year, he identified data-tracking problems and began to work on the issue. He has formed a research and policy unit that will eventually provide up-to-the-minute reports on the climate at state prisons based on assaults, other incidents, inmate complaints and additional information.

He cautioned that the data has been difficult to gather because of how it has been collected in the past. Assaults have been reported the same way as a host of other incidents, and because they have not been treated separately there has been no easy way to identify trends in past assaults, he said.

His memo to staff called the data collection problem "just one more example of the inadequacy of data and information that has plagued DOC for some time."
Excuse me, but what?

Hamblin has been in office for a year and a half, admits to knowing that this was allegedly a problem and hasn't fixed it? What has he been doing all that time? Besides harassing people on the sidewalk, that is?

All of this smacks of another cover up by Walker and his hired henchmen. They don't want the people to know what's going on until it's too late to do anything about it.

So much for Walker's claims of being Mister Cellophane.

The gentle reader should be upset and angry as hell about this cover up. But even more so, the gentle reader should be wondering what there might be that we don't know.


  1. You are no more reliable than he is. You both have agendas. We don't know for sure what his is, though I would suspect it is to move things along towards public acceptance of privatized prisons. There are behaviors that suggest Republicans would like to do that, but I suppose if a person(blogger) were to actually research, rather than just pull stuff outta their butt, they might first try to find out what kinds of preparatory rhetoric was used on the taxpaying psyches in Texas and other states south, where prisons are already heavily privatized. It's logical that "they" would play by the same rule book, use proven formulas to jerk the public.
    But, you have nothing to do with prisons, do you? There are so many possible reasons for increases in violence, including the possibility that the existing guards are becoming more abusive because they are jerks by nature (being in a Union does not mean you can't also be a sadist) or maybe they are pissed off about working conditions and shorter tempered. What about the prisoners? Do they have more injuries? Less access to legal or medical services? etc etc?? An increase in violence (if true) might be a good time to look in to the entire prison culture and ask unbiased questions. Not just twist things to your own liking. IS ANYONE concerned about the fates of the men locked up with increased violence? Are we bleeding heart liberals? Do we care? (nope, prisoners are just NASCAR-loving rednecks who vote Republican and get what they deserve)

    You have no way of knowing a THING about prison life and you just plug in a pre-fab answer you like. Because it benefits your own life situation. i.e. your wallet. Just like the politicians, you are about your own wallet. Not the Big Moral Cause. That's not exactly behavior outta the Good Book, yanno.
    Rape reporting is a faulty science, I imagine prison violence reporting is too, it would have to be. What the guy says about that is just plain logic. On the other hand, our folks in power are immensely corrupt and agenda/ideology driven and are rarely trust worthy. Same with our bloggers.
    You don't know Thing One about what is going on in WI prisons and neither do I.

    1. Yes, progrssive Democrats are very concerned with "the fates of the men locked up with increased violence." Where is your idea that we think that "prisoners are just NASCAR-loving rednecks who vote Republican and get what they deserve"?
      Last I checked, the prison population was disproportionately African-American. We think that's wrong, and we also think that people--guards and prisoners--are forced to work and live in an environment that just MIGHT be made worse for those involved by not providing the best possible environment available.
      Private prisons have shown to be a bad experience, except for the shareholders who invest in them.

    2. I have no experience? I worked in Milwaukee County's House of Corrections for three and a half years under Walker. I worked for Milwaukee County the entire time of Walker's reign. Oh, I have experiene. And if you had bothered reading the post and the links, you would have your answers. Instead, we get this angry concern troll attitude. Sad, really.

    3. I think something you wrote recently caused a highly competent troll to get the assignment this time.

      You must admit that the turds have much more polish than usual.

      Based on careful analysis, I expect this recent anonymous commenter might well be a Larry Craig type possibly even posting wirelessly from a popular restroom whoops- cruizing spot. I could be wrong, it might have been an urinal sentiel op-ed that leaked at the proofing stage.

  2. Anonymous constructs a lot of straw men and puts a lot of words in Capper's mouth.
    Of course the overall goal everywhere is to privatize. It's not about decent working conditions or anything but warehousing to make a profit:

  3. Capper's been writing this blog to benefit his wallet? I didn't know it was so profitable. You've been holding out on me.

    1. That's OK, I've been holding out on myself too. But I am so wealthy that I have to work four jobs just to make the bills.

  4. I've worked over 25 years (and well over 6000 hours of overtime,) as an officer inside a Wisconsin maximum security prison. When I started, an old timer told me that it takes about ten years to figure out what is really going on inside the prison, and I'm still learning something new daily.

    Is the loss of experienced staff causing an increase in violence? I believe that there is a very good possibility that this may be true. Experienced staff are able to get inmates to cooperate following the rules much easier than the new staff for multiple reasons such as: They are not game tested by inmates to learn what type of person the inmate is dealing with. This is done to determine if the officer is weak, vulnerable, corruptible, strong enough to do the job, etc. They are respected by inmates for how they have dealt with them in the past, there is history between the officer and inmates. They are often as old as their parents and not in the same age range as the new officers. Practice/experience teaches better ways to get the job done.

    It was stunning to see the officers scapegoated for the huge cost of corrections by the republicans and Walker. Where were the media reports on the impact of what Tommy Thompson and his republican's passing Truth in Sentencing, Life Means Life, and especially the lack of new sentencing guidelines for judges after these law changes? Can't forget the huge cost brought by Thompson by forming the Department of Corrections out of the Dept. of Health, and the multiple administration positions that created.

    I saw firsthand what a fraud Thompson's privatization of Corrections was. Corrections Corporation of America came into the prison and cherry picked out the healthiest, most stable, and best behaved inmates (for the least expensive inmates.) I was told that the cost per day Thompson claimed the out of state inmates cost, didn't include the DOC administration costs. This falsely skewed the cost per day higher for the inmates held in the Wisconsin prisons. The reason why Doyle brought the inmates back to Wisconsin, should be enough experience with privatization to teach the republicans why it is a bad deal for the state.

  5. (An open letter to the residents of the state of Wisconsin)...The state also needs to examine the staff assaults at their DHS facilities. At the Wisconsin Resource Center (WRC) we routinely have to deal with inmates that come there under the guise of "needing treatment", when they really are looking at "faking their illness", and hooking up with the peers that have been in prison in the past, and with WRC's perceived "country club" atmosphere, these inmates cause more problems than the inmates that truly have a serious mental problem. Walker's policies have eroded employee morale, given DOC (corrections) less of the tools THEY need to deal with these individuals, and Walker and his friends down in Madison have painted the workers at state institutions (myself included) as, according to the billboards on highway 41 and around the state, "Governor walker: Working for all of Wisconsin, not just the spoiled few". I take exception to Walker showing us state workers as "spoiled", as does state workers wring to their local papers (example: ref: is a letter from a retired state teacher who saw one of these "hate billboards). Until you have done what my brother and sister state workers do EVERY DAY, and get paid what little we do (and have our benefits whittled away--benefits that were bargained for years ago in place of wage increases) and now have, for example our retirement contributions go from state contributed, to (in my case) $22 per month, and then up to over $200/month (and the retirement system balance is STILL showing growth)to do what we do, day in and day out, for the safety and protection (we are/were members of the "security/public safety" bargaining unit) of the residents of this state, don't you DARE tell me my job is not important, or that you could do it as good or better than the staff we have in place now. Come on, I dare you. Thank you for your time.

  6. to the fine people of wisconsin who wish to voice their opinions have at it BUT UNTIL YOU PUT ON A BLUE UNIFORM AND SPEND TIME WORKING IN A PRISON BEING MANIPULATED BY NOT JUST INMATES ANYMORE BUT BY MANAGEMENT ALSO THEN BUTTON IT. I have worked 22 yrs as an officer and i have NEVER seen the outrageous way inmates and management are are acting. Directly from management *its not our call anymore it comes from Madison* well then you fine micromanagers in Madison get your ass in a prison and actually see what the hell is going on !!!!

  7. Let's not forget the millions that all WI tax payers pay out in the inmate Cadillac health care!!! Perhaps that should be exposed a little more? The general public have no clue. . . . That's to bad

    1. LOL! You've been listening to much squawk radio. Go and see for your own eyes about how "luxurious" the prisoners have it. You'll run away crying.

  8. Quit working for prisons.

  9. Very important comments from the workers in our correctional and health agencies. thank you for participating in this forum. I'd like to see this get much wider coverage.

    1. Then set up private time to talk to all the DOC employees. Keep their identity secret at all expenses, as the risk of losing their jobs. How about the effect this has had on the family. I am the daughter of a retired Food Admin. and wife to a DOC corrections worker. This isn't just now, its been happening for years. Walker just has been the one to do the most damage.

  10. Many did quit (twice as many as the previous year,) and many, many more will quit if the retirement fund is tampered with. Before you say good, consider the consequences such as the cost of training new staff.

    For corrections the cost to bring a new officer on board includes a paid six weeks at the training academy and OJT at an institution. While the outgoing staff member leaves with a wealth of knowledge and institutional memory.

    What's it worth to you Mr. Taxpayer if what I know (because I've been around a longtime,) contributes to knock a multi-million dollar inmate lawsuit right out of the courtroom?

  11. Concerning the earlier comment about Inmate health care. The next time you are in your doctor's office and you notice that his medical school diploma is from UW Madison; it is very possible that an inmate and staff from the DOC played a role in your doc's training. The staff for getting the inmate to the appointment at the right time, and the inmate for allowing a training doctor or for participating in a new drug trial/longterm tests.

  12. I just quit after 16 1/2 years at Waupun Correctional. To heck with it, I got out before somebody loses their life. It's a relief to me to NEVER have to step foot in that atmosphere again. I can't believe how a politician turned a not so appealing job into a political stunt. Sad thing is I have a lot if friends that still have to call that place work. I love how Ramblin Hamblin covers everything up. IT'S NOT WORKING

  13. There are cover ups for sure in the State Corrections arena! It is not just with officers, either. Take for example the Health Care System within a prison. I have seen upper management take the side of an inmate over that of the employee. Inmates in Wisconsin have far too many rights as far as I am concerned. I think Upper Management is top heavy. I can think of an HSU manager that makes 50 plus dollars an hour to sit on the phone all day. Ask her to help out and she is indignant. She is not a leader and a poor boss at that. She is a micromanager that does not care about her fact I think she pretends to care about the inmates a bit more....and has gotten at least 10 plus licensed people out the door...Her performance is lacking...and she has been caught cheating on her time....but that and more has been covered up......swept under the carpet. If the public only knew.

  14. The coverups involve Upper Management. Most officers try and do the best they can. If you are not in the IN Group....they will shun you. There is no protections on getting forced to work overtime. You are guilty until proven innocent.

  15. Big Change in HR Investigations Ordered by NLRB

    On July 30, 2012 the NLRB reversed on a 2-1 vote the traditional confidentiality of internal investigations. HR routinely tells people involved in their fact finding to not speak to others about the matter. HR might say it wants to protect integrity of their process.

    Instead, the NLRB ruled:

    protecting the integrity of [its] investigations is insufficient to outweigh employees’ Section 7 rights. Rather, in order to minimize the impact on Section 7 rights, it was the Respondent’s [Employer's] burden “to first determine whether in any give[n] investigation witnesses need[ed] protection, evidence [was] in danger of being destroyed, testimony [was] in danger of being fabricated, or there [was] a need to prevent a cover up.” Id. The Respondent’s blanket approach clearly failed to meet those requirements. Accordingly, we find that the Respondent, by maintaining and applying a rule prohibiting employees from discussing ongoing investigations of employee misconduct, violated Section 8(a)(1) of the Act.

    Thus employees’ rights trump employers’ desire to keep the investigation secret. The NLRB rendered the decision in the case Banner Health System v. Navarro [Case 28–CA– 023438].You can read the ruling here.

    Tags: confidentiality, investigations, NLRB, secrecy