Protesters demand change at Columbia Correctional Institution

Protesters claim long history of inhumane treatment of inmates


MADISON, Wis. — A group of protesters left the Department of Corrections Building frustrated Thursday afternoon after attempting to speak face-to-face with someone to address issues they claim are happening at the Columbia Correctional Institution.

About a dozen people held up signs demanding that the warden be fired and that CCI is a “torture chamber”, as they shared stories of loved ones who are inmates at CCI who claim to be treated unfairly.

Ben Turk, who organized the event, said inmates often experience racism, are denied showers, are not given hot food for long periods of time, are highly restricted on unjustified lock downs that last for months, and claim that an inmate has died as a result of medical neglect.

Turk and other protesters said they’ve tried reaching out to numerous people within the department, and have seen no change or improvements.

“Secretary Carr and Governor Evers have been tried and nothing has happened,” Turk said. “So we are here to say, ‘No we are not just going to politely email you anymore. We are going to be here, we are going to make this an issue. You’re going to have to answer these questions. You’re going to have to meet these demands,'”

The protesters marched inside demanding to speak with someone about the alleged ongoing issues, only to be told by that no one was available to meet with them.

Turk said he and others will be back in two weeks if they do not hear a response back to the numerous emails they’ve left seeking answers.

The DOC Director of Communications, Molly Vidal, sent a response in a statement saying, “Secretary Carr and the DOC welcome input from concerned individuals. We look forward to continued discussions with Mr. Turk and any other interested parties.”

Turk said he is organizing a march on January 22  at 10 a.m. at Worthington Park.