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Another inmate found dead at troubled Waupun prison

Protests in front of the Waupun Correctional Institution
Posted at 12:32 PM, Mar 05, 2024

MADISON (AP) — Another inmate has been found dead at a troubled Wisconsin prison.

Donald Maier, 62, died at Waupun Correctional Institution on Feb. 22, state Department of Corrections spokesperson Kevin Hoffman said. The Dodge County Sheriff's Office and the county medical examiner are investigating and no further information was available, Hoffman said.

Maier was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2012 on multiple counts of stalking. He was charged in September 2022 with first-degree murder in Wood County in connection with the 1985 stabbing death of Benny Scruggs. That case was pending at the time of Maier's death. Maier's attorneys, listed in online court records as Andrew Martinez and Annie Getsinger, didn't immediately respond to phone and email messages Tuesday.

Maier is the fourth Waupun inmate to die at the facility since June 2023. Dean Hoffmann killed himself in solitary confinement that month. Tyshun Lemons died at the facility on Oct. 2. Cameron Williams died there on Oct. 30. Their deaths remain under investigation.

The Department of Corrections instituted lockdowns at Waupun as well as at prisons in Green Bay and Stanley last year due to a shortage of guards.

A group of Waupun inmates filed a federal lawsuit in October saying lockdown conditions at the facility amount to cruel and unusual punishment. And last month Hoffmann's daughter filed a federal lawsuit alleging Waupun officials failed to provide her father with adequate mental health care and medications. Those cases are pending.

The two-year state budget that Gov. Tony Evers signed last summer provided 6% raises for prison guards and boosted their starting pay in hopes of generating interest in the profession. The move appears to have worked — the class of guards that graduated from training last month numbered at 214 people, the largest class since 1981.

Stanley resumed normal operations in late November. Movement restrictions have eased at Waupun and Green Bay but some still remain in place.

Evers is searching for someone to replace Corrections Secretary Kevin Carr, who announced his retirement last week.

Carr did not say why he had decided to leave the job, although the official announcement from the Department of Corrections noted that Carr faced "several challenges not unfamiliar to correctional systems nationwide, including high staff vacancies and other resource shortages" when he took over as secretary in 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic only exacerbated those issues, the announcement said.