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Articles Addressing COVID in 
WI Prisons (early 2021) 

be Mite | 





"og THEM ALL i tt) 
& Pas oa 
— _f “ \ ins : a A 

ABR@LISHmke & 

actions and analysis from a bad place. — 

COVID Spreader Shakedown at Racine Cl 

Page 1 

Stimulus Obstruction in Wisconsin Prisons 


Sarah Cooper’s COVID Spreader Shakedowns 


These articles were originally published at ABOLISHmke.com_ in February/March, 
2021. The online version has embedded links to sources. We put some info from some 
of those sources inas footnotes for readers who cannot get online. 

Contact us for more information or 
to submit an article of your own! 



actions and analysis from a bad place. 

Page 0 

"We will conti 

nue to operate the 

facilities in a safe and secure manner. 
This is a multi-pronged effort which 

includes followi 

ng recommendations 

to prevent the spread of the virus and 

continuing with security protocols 

uch as conduc 





4+ 2 

ys later, RCI 

Oo Qa 

the wardens 

was hit with 
population and 

25 people die 

considering the 

number is questionably low 

ting searches ina safe 
anner. | trust this answers your 

at email came on March 2, three 

was packing people 

n gym bleachers for two hours 
while going through their cells. 

Under the previous DAI head, Makda 
Fessahaye, a memo went out to all 

recommending that | 

they cease shakedowns to protect | 
against the pandemic spreading. 
Despite these precautions, the DOC 

massive outbreaks 

infecting more than half? of the | 

killing an unknown 

number. The DOC admits to letting 

of COVID, but that 


high exposure rate. 

Sarah Cooper is on track to get the 

rest of the 

prison population 

infected, and thanks to suspicious 
reporting and lack of accountability in 
the DOC, we may never know how 
many more will die due to her carelessness. 



Paul Kemper em ie ATA 


isconsin. OV 
Kevin.Carr@wrr vil 


3 Link to Wisconsin Watch article: ‘He shouldn’t have had to die’: COVID-19 infects half of Wisconsin 
inmates, five times the overall state rate 
4 Link to ABOLISHmke article about the DOC’s covid19 death and infection numbers not adding upwell. 

Page 9 

der Shaked t Racine Cl 
7 cup CATO ASTION TS vce Leama <p CALL TO ACTION TO COVID Spreader Shakedown at Racine 


| February 26, 2021 | 

Staff at the prison in Racine 
RCI) are forcing captives to 
congregate in the gym, and 
then going cell to cell | 
spreading covidl9 by 
tossing everyone's property. 
They do not change gloves 
between cells, and at least 
one of the tossed units has 
The DOC has always engaged in invasive property searches. They have a real gone on isolation 
zeal for stealing people's property, including their money’. During a pandemic quarantine. 
and extended lockdown such practices are especially cruel and unnecessary. 
Outside of the obvious risk of spreading the disease, the property seizures are Coronavirus is still present in Racine, and at RCI. The pandemic hasn't magically 
also depriving people of items they really need. stopped spreading via surfaces, so guards rifling through everything in an 

infected but asymptomatic person's cell will carry virus particles to every cell 
With visitation cancelled, typewriters and tablets are needed to write letters and they shake down subsequently. Read the details about the shakedowns in the 
emails to loved ones outside. These devices also provide people with a way to f 


Black and Pink Milwaukee did a call-in campaign to help a member keep his typewriter. 

Warden Paul Kemper standing outside his prison. 


nessage we got from someone held at RCI at the end of this post. 

pass lockdown time and get their mind off the risk of COVID exposure and - 

sickness. Shakedowns also confiscate extra linens from people, but those linens The DOC's terrible policies allowed major outbreaks, infecting more than half of 

help people who can’t afford overpriced sweatshirts to keep warm in the cold the people they hold captive. Resuming property shakedowns and congregating 

Mintentaonthe: people in gyms is a good way to ensure that the remainder also get infected, or 

that people who recovered get re-infected. 

t took Sarah Cooper, head of the Division of Adult Institutions (DAI) a few days aa aa 

to reply to our call to action. When she did, her email was a classic bureaucratic HEN BES the DOC has put facilities on lockdown and done unit-wide cell 

non-response. “As the new DAI Administrator,” she wrote, "I'd like to searches after a significant security incident or the discovery of contraband. This 

acknowledge your position on this issue. I’d also like reassure you we are sha ecown does nohebpes ee be inspired by such an event, but is just being 

committed protecting the health and safety of people in our care and our staff.” done to bring people into conformity with new property limit rules. That means, 

[sic] they are risking everyone's lives to enforce petty DOC rules about how many 
: towels or blankets captives are allowed. Our contact said: 

We wrote back, asking her directly if there were still shakedowns occurring and 


explaining that, “If you're searching people's cells during a pandemic to enforce we are being put at serious risk over NON serious issues. having 
aay ; ; too much allowed property is not a threat to the safety or security of 
property limits, you cannot claim a commitment to people’s health and safety. : ; 
¢ ¢ ae ene es 5 le’ the prison. in all the years I’ve been incarcerated I’ve never heard of 
You're putting enforcement of a rule about towels and sheets above people's a major unit shakedown to ensure inmates didn’t have too much 
lives.” We politely asked her to, “please answer my question and address the 

allowed property, especially at a time like this.” 
public's concern with more than empty reassurances.” Here’s her response: 

2 Link to ABOLISHmke article on stimulus payments, in this zine. 

Page 8 Page 1 

We've also heard that a memo regarding these property limits went out at the 

facilities, if they aren’t already. 

memo they sent about safe 
emper at RCI, has his staf 
Unfortunately, the reformers a 
comply with their directives unl 

evin Carr likes to position him 


Please join us by writing complaints. 

An admin at the Division of Adult Institutions (DAI) said the sha 

f disregarding his bosses’ sa 

Email the RCI warden, DAI head, and DOC secretary: 

prison in Oshkosh (OSCI). This memo likely went to all facilities across the 
system, so we're afraid that similar shakedowns will occu 

r in these other 

edown violates a 

covid practices, so at least one Warden, Paul 
fe practice rules. 
t the top of the DOC will not require wardens to 
ess they receive written complai 


self as a reformer, but he’s clearly not pro-active 
and needs to be continually pushed into doing the right thing. 

Email DOC officials and demanding they 

Sarah Cooper’s COVID Spreader Shakedowns 

| March 10, 2021 | 

Two weeks ago AbolishMKE 
broke a story about cell searches 
at the Racine prison (RCI) 
preceding new COVID cases and 
a quarantine. We sent the story 
to reporters (only Wisconsin 
Examiner seems to have picked 
it up) and asked readers to 
contact DOC officials 
demanding an end to cell 
searches, or “shakedowns.” 

Sarah Cooper, head of the 
Division of Adult 


ao ay wu Mies 
j dial 

Make your message personal, if you 
have time. Here is a suggested script: 

(DAI) responded instead 


e from someone 

9:30pm on March 5 for 

gym an 

d forced to sit tog 

while guards went throug 

Contacts at other faciliti 

Institutions DAI boss Sarah Cooper 
with more and worse shakedowns. According 
t of their cells at 
a surprise shakedown. Captives were brought to the 

held at RCI, staff pulled everyone ou 

ether on the bleachers “thigh to thig 
h the cell bloc 

es have confirmed that cell searc 



to a 

for two hours 

touching everyone's property. 

hes and st 

enforcement of property 
system. Someone held at 
get searched while they a 

imitations are happe 
the Waupun prison 

re out taking showers 

ning across the Wisconsin 
WCl) wrote that their cel 
or making phone calls. 

The DOC must stop all 

unnecessary cell searches, 


A shakedown risks spreading = 

covidl9 by forcing people to jm 

move around, break social 

distance, and most 22 

importantly by surface spread SFA 

through guards rifling through ZZ 

their property. i Zig & BSS 
STOP THE SHAKEDOWNS! The fence and control tower outside of RCI 

Page 2 

In other facilities, contacts have reported the DOC increasing seizures of 
os, and other property. The DOC gets away with 
people from keeping thin 
ifts from other captives on their way to 

typewriters, tablets, radi 


have been damaged or that were g 


this stuff by ma 

ing rules outlawing 

s often 

gs that 

Page 7 

s there any better explanation for this series of actions taken by the DOC and the A message from an RCI captive: 

RS than that th impl t pri ing? “ ; 
S than that they simply want prisoners to have less than nothing? From the at ust Wanted te NBAate all: Be WS Deen ee nasennarely 

complicated filing process, to the fact that the DOC from the beginning insisted they've been doing major unit shakedowns, making everyone on 
> 1 ut W 4 : 4 

that their staff were “not allowed” to help prisoners file, to the the unit go to the gym. then going through the cells. | believe they 
miscommunications about where the completed 1040s were to be sent, and did three units so far. one of the units they searched has gone back 
now this—debit cards. A final “fuck you” to the people in Wisconsin prisons. on quarantine, the entire unit. this is Milwaukee unit and its an 
- isolation quarantine not a regular quarantine. this in my view is no 
he cruelty is the point, pure and simple. coincidence since staff rarely if ever change their gloves when doing 
The IRS has since released a memo’ and sent information to the prison officials, cell to cell searches. they: look through Peoples garDages, eitty 
clothes etc and just go on to the next cell with the same gloves. 

but the damage is done. Many people have already sent their debit cards out to 
loved ones or trusted advocates. The DOC will get their money from the 

prisoners, regardless of policy or practices put in place from outside. i personally witnessed staff doing this during a recent electronics 
sweep (looking for bogus TV's radios fans etc that aren't on an 
inmates property list and were left to them by an inmate being 
released) of the entire unit, and once again a extra linen sweep. in 
that case looking for extra state issue clothing and bed sheets and 
towels. Future health and lives are being put at risk over this as the 
general prison population has not been vaccinated for covid, only 
those 65 and over and many staff are refusing to get vaccinated out 
: of some conspiratorial belief the vaccine will give them covid, cause 

‘ ~ , them to die, become paralyzed, it may have a toxin in it or some 
RELEASE other drug the drug companies want to secretly test on people, etc., 

THE MOST se PRISONS ad nauseum. 

Sl VULNERABLE N OW bole ide i guess these impending searches are being impelled by a desire to 

3 MR MTS oe see that all of an inmates personal property fits in three cardboard 
: boxes, (not including electronics items and consumable 
commissary) and all legal papers fit in one cardboard box. the boxes 
they are referring make less space han we are actually allowed by 
policy, but that’s a side issue. The point is that this is not something 
that is serious enough to jeopardize peoples lives and health over, 
especially when there is no limit to how many times someone can 
get covid, and when they presently have a more dangerous and 
contagious covid variant identified in Wisconsin. People should 
now about what is going on. we are being put at serious risk over 
ON serious issues. having too much allowed property is not a 
threat to the safety or security of the prison. in all the years I’ve 
been incarcerated l’ve never heard of a major unit shakedown to 
ensure inmates didn't have too much allowed property, especially 
at a time like this. if inmates possess everything the doc allows 
them to have, they can still be over allowable space limitations.” 

handling the next persons stuff with the same filthy gloves. 

1 link to - 

Page 6 Page 3 

Stimulus Obstruction in Wisconsin Prisons 

| March 

"The IRS sent me and others a debit card 


and the prison won't process them or 
place the funds on our accounts. They 

02, 2021 | 



of a check for our EIP 2 (S600) ( s) 

require us to send the cards out and WY 
find another way to get the funds ‘ WS 
off them.” os 
-Prisoner in the Wisconsin DOC | eal \ 
eA ae <4 


rolled o 


For some background, initially the IRS declared that prisoners were ineligi 

Case No. 20-cv-05309-PJH resulted in 

the stimulus. They were still never elig 

ble for the very first stimu 

ut a second stimulus of $1200 in September 2020, Scholl v. Mn 

a win for prisoners—Phy 

For anyone who is unaware, prisoners are not allowed to have credit/debit cards 
in their possession, so this is a particularly cruel act on the part of the IRS, who in 
collaboration with the DOC has made the stimulus program a nightma 

re for 

ble to 
us of 

$1200 that many people received back in April, 2020. When the government 

lis J. 

n, United States District Judge from the 9th Circuit made clea 

prisoners are not exempt from receiving this stimulus. 

Three groups of people leapt into action: 

This wh 

r that 

Prisoners reached out to all their lifelines in hopes of getting their hands 

on this money. 

Advocates mailed 1040s & instructions behind the walls en masse and 

filed online for as many people as possible. 

And the DOC and IRS worked tirelessly to ensure they would steal as 

much of this money as possible. 

ole process has been a slow and inconsistent one at best. Some p 


filed as early as possible (end of September, 2020) and have still yet to receive 
even their first payment. While others who filed around that time received their 
stimulus money within a few weeks. In the beginning of January, the IRS said 

that any 

one who had filed but not received the stimulus payment needed to re- 

Page 4 

file, causing even more confusion. Some people “received” the payment, but had 

most if not 


all of the money taken, so they were unaware that 

they had 
hnically been paid out. Without a reliable source to check the status of a 

prisoner's stimulus payment, many people have filed again—hoping they were 



t overlooked and that this will be the one that works. 


s check was supposed to go entirely to the prisoners, unless they had back 
d support. The DOC was able to take advantage of a loophole and recoup 

back fees and other fines or charges levied against prisoners. | know two 

prisoners who had nearly half of their first stimulus taken, another only ended up 

receiving a 

dollar. These are all 

people who don’t have children. 

In light of this, adjustments to the language of the bill have been made and the 
$600 stimulus will not be taken from people, as explained by a case clerk: 

After closing these looph 
money from the very beg 

Specifically, Section 272(d)(1) of the Consolidated Appropriations 
Act provides that the IRS may not apply reductions or offsets under 
31 U.S.C. Sections 3716 and 37201A or 26 U.S.C. § 6402, including 
for overdue state or federal taxes or child support. Additionally, 
Section 272(d)(2) of the Consolidated Appropriations Act provides 
that the second round of stimulus checks “shall not be transferable 
or assignable, at law or in equity, and no applicable payment shall 
be subject to execution, levy, attachment, garnishment, or other 
legal process, or the operation of any bankruptcy or insolvency 
law.” This means that this round of stimulus checks may not be 
garnished to cover overdue debts by federal or state prisons for any 
eligible individuals. 

up with anew scam. Debit Cards. 

oles, the IRS—who didn’t want prisoners to get this 
inning—and the DOC seemed to team up and come 

For many, the $600 stimulus payment was sent in the form of a debit card, one 

that they are not allowed 

the card and asked who they would like the card to be sent to. 

What happens next? 

to have in their possession. They are presented with 

The person who receives the card will go online to transfer the funds from the 
card to the prisoner's account. This will cost a fee to the service transferring the 
funds and then since this is no longer “stimulus” money, or it is indistinguishable 
from any other deposit to a prisoner's account, the DOC can take their cut— 
upwards of 35%. 

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