Former Waupun Prison Warden and 8 Employees Charged in Inmate Deaths

Inmates had complained about a monthslong lockdown that cut them off from family members and timely medical care.

The former warden of a Wisconsin prison and eight other prison employees were charged on Wednesday in connection with multiple inmate deaths over the last year, the local sheriff said.

The prison, Waupun Correctional Institution, about 70 miles northwest of Milwaukee, was the subject of a 2023 report by The New York Times and Wisconsin Watch that found that inmates had been confined to their cells for months and denied access to medical care.

The prison’s former warden, Randall Hepp, had left his job earlier this week. He was charged with misconduct in public office, a felony. Mr. Hepp’s arrest was first reported by The Associated Press. His attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.

The other prison employees, most of whom worked as correctional officers and registered nurses, were charged with abuse of an inmate. Two of the correctional officers and a sergeant were also charged with misconduct.

In announcing the arrests during a Wednesday news conference, Dale J. Schmidt, the sheriff for Dodge County, Wis., said Mr. Hepp and the other employees had failed to adequately care for inmates in their custody. Sheriff Schmidt described in detail four deaths, including one involving a prisoner who had not eaten in days and was “drinking sewage water” and “played in the toilet.” The medical examiner said the cause of death was malnutrition and probable dehydration, and ruled it a homicide.

Randall Hepp, former warden of Waupun Correctional Institution.Dodge County (Wis.) Sheriff’s Office

Do you, or does anyone you know, work for the Wisconsin Department of Corrections?

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