Waupun CI Response to COVID-19 Exposure: Lackadaisical and Punitive



This report relies mainly on phone calls with our friend Elijah Prioleau, who is locked up inside Waupun Correctional Institution (WCI) on a 3 year revocation after spending 16 years trapped in Wisconsin prisons. Elijah has health conditions that make him especially vulnerable to COVID-19 and to the hardship of an extended lockdown. We demand that he, and others like him be released immediately and quarantined in a hospital or other facility that cares for people and tries to keep them alive. The Wisconsin prison system does not.

By speaking with us and bringing truth to the outside world, Elijah faces risk of retaliation. We haven’t heard from him since early Saturday morning. Please write him support letters, thanking him for helping raise awareness and protect people held in Wisconsin prisons. Receiving mail demonstrates to staff that Elijah has friends outside who will not stand by if he’s persecuted or silenced.

Write him here:

Leon Elijah Prioleau
Waupun Correctional Institution
PO Box 351
Waupun, WI 53963-0351

Elijah’s testimony is based on what he saw and heard about from the cell block. We researched background information to put his observations into context. We can see two things clearly:

  • First, Governor Evers and the DOC could have prevented this exposure if they’d cared to protect incarcerated people’s health and wellness over the last year.
  • Second, Warden Brian Foster at WCI and his staff are not taking serious action to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the facility.

We have received word that Columbia Correctional is also on lockdown after a food service worker tested positive for COVID-19. We expect that Warden Susan Novak’s response will be as bad or worse that the WCI response described here.

We will continue to monitor both of these situations, and any other exposures in the DOC as we learn about them. We will fight for the lives of people held in these prisons. Governor Evers and Secretary Carr will not be allowed to ignore the plight of the incarcerated during this pandemic!

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