Susan Novak’s operation of Columbia Correctional Institution is unacceptable. During the ongoing lockdown her policies led to severe abuse, deprivations, and torture- in the forms of solitary confinement and force feeding hunger strikers.
Warden Novak has endangered the lives of countless people in her facility by refusing to administer flu vaccines and denying access to medical treatment. Her policies enabled her staff to kill Muhammed (Larry) Bracey by medical neglect on December 3, 2019.
Allowing Novak to continue operating any Wisconsin prison, and continuing the current lockdown policies is a moral failure by DOC administration which the people of Wisconsin can tolerate no longer.
On the morning of Wednesday, January 22, loved ones and supporters of people held in CCI and across the system will march on the DOC.
10:00 am- Gathering at Worthington Park (3102 Worthington Ave, street parking). Meet under the structure to for a collaborative story share and opportunity to grieve for those who have suffered or are suffering in Wisconsin prisons.
10:30- March on the DOC. We will step off around 10:30 for a 3 block march to the visitor’s entrance on the north side of the building. People with limited mobility will be able to drive from the park instead.
At the DOC: we will demand to speak with Secretary Carr, or someone from the Division of Adult Institutions. They will know we are coming and what we want to talk about, so they will have no excuse for not being prepared for us.
On January 9th, we held a smaller version of this rally and told them we would be returning. News coverage of that rally is online here: https://www.channel3000.com/protesters-demand-change-at-columbia-correctional-institution/
Our 5 demands:
1. Fire Susan Novak immediately.
2. Fully restore standard operations at CCI. Lift “modified movement” restrictions and follow statutory rules for the normal operation of the prison. Discipline staff who fail to comply.
3. Cease policies allowing extended lockdowns at all DOC facilities. Increase transparency, independent oversight and accountability when a facility does go on lockdown to prevent future abuses.
4. Train all DOC staff on de-escalation and anti-racism. Fire racists and sadists who refuse the training or continue their old ways despite it.
5. Negotiate with incarcerated people who are engaged in protest, especially hunger strikers. Never torture and jeopardize the life of someone on hunger strike by force feeding them.
If the DOC cannot meet these demands under current population and staffing levels, then it must request emergency assistance and release prisoners. Overcrowding is the root of the DOC’s crisis. The DOC can quickly reduce population by releasing people and changing supervision policies and practices that maximize incarceration length and re-incarcerate people on who have not committed new crimes. These policies are the leading route for new admissions in the DOC.
Understaffing is not solved by increasing guard pay, but by reducing overcrowding and improving work conditions to retain staff. Remove toxic people like Warden Novak and her racist guards. Reduce staffing needs and mandatory overtime by reducing the incarcerated population. Shrink the DOC.