Democrats propose Corrections Reform measures to improve public safety
LA CROSSE, WI – Amid growing concerns with the rise in assaults at Wisconsin’s correctional facilities, Democrats are urging immediate action to strengthen worker protections and improve public safety. In addition to the high-profile investigation into claims of child abuse and assaults at the Lincoln Hills Juvenile Detention Center, serious assaults on correctional officers have been documented this year at Green Bay, Racine, Columbia and other correctional facilities across Wisconsin. While Republican leaders have known about these serious safety concerns for more than a year, conditions have deteriorated as a result of additional state budget cuts and worsening staff shortages.
“The lack of urgency by Gov. Walker’s administration and the Republican majority to address complaints of child abuse and assaults in our correctional facilities is appalling,” said Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse). “In the past two months, serious assaults and nearly-fatal suicide attempts have shocked families and communities who had been told not to worry about safety concerns in our correctional facilities. Wisconsin children, families and public safety officers can’t afford to continue waiting for action. It’s time to address the serious safety issues in our correctional facilities before this dangerous situation spirals further out of control.”
In an effort to improve safety in correctional facilities, Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton), Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) and several Assembly Democrats are putting forward a package of legislative proposals. The bills aim to improve worker training, limit the use of forced overtime, increase workplace safety, strengthen reporting requirements and ensure appropriate staffing levels for first responders.
As part of the Corrections Reform package, Sen. Shilling and Rep. Dianne Hesselbein (D-Middleton) are introducing the Correctional Officer Workplace Safety Bill (LRB 4225). The proposal will restore the right of correctional officers to collectively bargain over workplace safety issues.