Prisoners' attorneys demand state live up to changes at prison

Oct 15, 2003 - 

(Published Wednesday, October 15, 2003 09:24:08 AM CDT) 

Todd Richmond/Associated Press MADISON, Wis. -- 

Corrections officials still haven't improved living conditions at Wisconsin's toughest prison despite a months-old court settlement, according to an attorney for inmates there. Attorney Ed Garvey filed papers Friday in federal court asking a judge to direct the state Department of Corrections to comply with the terms of a 2002 settlement with inmates at the prison formerly known as Supermax. The agreement requires the agency to cool cell temperatures, build a recreation area and stop using " nutri-loafs" as a form of punishment. " When you have an agreement you're supposed to live up to it," Garvey said. DOC spokesman Bill Clausius said the state is abiding by the settlement. " We're making a good faith effort to comply with all portions of the settlement agreement," Clausius said.

The former Supermax prison in Boscobel, since renamed the Wisconsin Secure Program Facility, was designed to house the state's most hardened criminals. Former Gov. Scott McCallum reached an agreement with inmates last year to end the lawsuit they filed over living conditions at the prison. The settlement promised to change the name, build outdoor exercise areas and expand face-to-face visits with friends and family members. It also requires that cells be no hotter than 80 to 84 degrees during heat waves. Garvey's filing criticizes the agency for supplying prisoners with ice chips, shorts and cool showers.

He alleges those measures don't actually reduce the heat and air conditioning is the best option. Clausius countered the settlement requires the department only to investigate and take practical cooling techniques. It says nothing about installing air-conditioning, he said. Corrections officials were supposed to build the recreation area, but as of Friday they hadn't, the filing said. Clausius said the Corrections Department had to get the state Legislature to allocate money for the project. The state Building Commission approved a contractor at its meeting in September, and the agency hopes to start work before the end of the year, he said.

Other allegations in Garvey's request include: -Prison staff still give prisoners nutri-loafs, a combination of egg whites, potatoes, carrots, milk and chicken, in violation of the settlement. Clausius stressed the loaves are nutritious. 

Department of Corrections: www.wi-doc.com 

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