Former Waupun Correctional Institution Staff Charged in Connection with Inmate Deaths


Charges have been filed against the former warden and eight staff members of the Waupun Correctional Institution in Wisconsin in connection with the deaths of several inmates, one of whom wasn’t discovered until 12 hours after passing away.

Located approximately 60 miles northeast of Madison, the prison has faced allegations of abuse and misconduct for an extended period of time.

Randall Hepp, the former warden, was charged with misconduct in public office, along with eight other employees, including correctional officers and registered nurses, who were charged with inmate abuse. Two correctional officers and a sergeant also faced misconduct charges.

Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt, who spearheaded the investigation, commented during a news conference, “We are operating the oldest prison in the state of Wisconsin in a dangerous and reckless manner.”

Following the deaths of four inmates at the facility last year, concerns about the prison’s conditions escalated. Inmate Dean Hoffman committed suicide in solitary confinement, which prompted his daughter to file a federal lawsuit alleging inadequate mental health care and medications provided to her father.

Two other inmates, Tyshun Lemons and Cameron Williams, were found dead at the prison in October. Lemons died from an overdose of acetyl fentanyl while Williams passed away from a stroke.

An investigation revealed that Williams had requested to go to the hospital three days before his death but was ignored. His body was only discovered late the next morning, 12 hours after his death.

Donald Maier, another inmate, was found dead at the prison in February, with his death attributed to malnutrition and dehydration.

The charges filed are connected to the deaths of Williams and Maier.

Waupun, being the first prison in Wisconsin, faced staffing issues which led to a lockdown in March 2023. The facility had a 43% vacancy rate in job positions by the end of May, as per agency data.

Lawmakers and prison officials were aware of the impending staffing crisis but failed to take adequate action to address the shortages, according to a New York Times investigation.

Governor Tony Evers stated, “Each and every person who failed to do their job to the high level that we expect or treat people in our care with dignity, humanity, and respect they deserve should be held accountable to the fullest extent of the law.” Evers also mentioned a suspected smuggling ring involving prison employees under federal investigation.

During an interview with investigators, Hepp partially attributed Maier’s death to the staffing shortage.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Safia Samee Ali
Safia Samee Ali
Digital Reporter. Safia Samee Ali covers a range of topics including legal affairs, social policy, and justice. Safia was previously a national journalist at The Messenger and NBC News. She is also a former attorney.

Latest stories


Related Articles

Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here
Captcha verification failed!
CAPTCHA user score failed. Please contact us!
Continue on app