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Dodge County Sheriff says prison deaths showed 'a blatant disregard for the safety of human beings'

The Waupun Correctional Institution's warden and eight others are charged
Posted at 5:38 PM, Jun 05, 2024

DODGE COUNTY (NBC 26) — The former warden of the Waupun Correctional Institution is now on the other side of the law.

Former warden Randall Hepp was booked into jail Wednesday morning in Dodge County. He's of nine people charged in connection to two deaths that happened at the Waupun Correctional Institution, and the Dodge Sheriff's Office said a total of four people have died there within the past year.

  • Former warden Randall Hepp and eight others were charged in connection to two deaths that happened at the Waupun Correctional Institution.
  • The Dodge County Sheriff said the actions of correctional staff contributed to the deaths.
  • Four people have died at the prison in the past year.

"These investigations have shown a blatant disregard for the safety of human beings," Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt said.

Sheriff Schmidt said 24-year-old Cameron Williams died of a stroke in October 2023 after "concerning" behavior was ignored by staff.

The sheriff said 62-year-old Donald Maier died of dehydration and failure to thrive due to malnutrition in February 2024. Sheriff Schmidt said correctional offices turned off water in Maier's cell for significant periods of time without following proper protocol and failed to feed him nine out of 12 meals over a four-day period.

The sheriff said Maier was dead for 12 hours before staff found him.

His death was ruled a homicide by the medical examiner.

The sheriff also said 60-year-old Dean Hoffman died by suicide in June 2023 after not receiving his medication for several days.

Sheriff Schmidt also said 60-year-old Tyshun Lemons died as a result of a fentanyl overdose in October 2023.

No one is yet charged in either of those deaths.

"While there are policy violations [in Hoffman's case], none of the policy violations in this incident rose to the level of criminal activity," Sheriff Schmidt said.

The sheriff said similar incidents occurred at Green Bay Correctional Institution, but no criminal charges were filed.

"This is not isolated to one facility in the Department of Corrections," Sheriff Schmidt said.

On Wednesday, Sheriff Schmidt recommended closing or renovating both prisons.

"We have to make sure that our the staff that are in these facilities are being held accountable," Schmidt said.

The Dodge County District Attorney said the nine people charged in these deaths face 18 months in prison and two years probation for each charge.