The Wisconsin State Prison System
The State of Wisconsin prison system is an integral part of the state criminal justice system. Basically, the state prisons serve as a penalty to confine persons guilty of a crime in the state. It also prepares inmates to be reintegrated into society, upon finishing their prison sentence. Inmates have to be convicted in a state court for any crime leveled against them before being sentenced to prison.
Within the state’s jurisdiction, the Department of Correction (DOC) handles the daily operation of the prisons and manages their facilities generally.
What is the Difference Between Jail and Prison in Wisconsin?
While jails and prisons in Wisconsin are often used in place of each other, there are some differences between them. Typically, the state government manages Wisconsin state prisons through the Department of Corrections, while jails serve the county area they are situated in. The local law enforcement agency, which is usually the Sheriff’s Office, is responsible for the operation of the jail facilities.
Offenders convicted of a serious felony offense that the court penalizes with long-term imprisonment are sentenced to state prison. Jails hold inmates that commit less severe crimes or are awaiting trial. The court is more likely to punish misdemeanor offenses with a jail sentence, especially for crimes with the maximum jail time of one year.
There are different levels of prison facilities, based on the severity of the offense or the security threat that the inmate poses. The court can sentence offenders to a minimum, medium, or maximum prison facility.
How Many Prisons are in Wisconsin?
In Wisconsin, there are twenty adult prison institutions and sixteen correctional system centers that are minimum-security facilities. The following are the prisons located in Wisconsin:
Adult Prison Institutions
- Chippewa Valley Correctional Treatment Facility
- Columbia Correctional Institution
- Dodge Correctional Institution
- Fox Lake Correctional Institution
- Green Bay Correctional Institution
- Jackson Correctional Institution
- Kettle Moraine Correctional Institution
- Milwaukee Secure Detention Facility
- New Lisbon Correctional Institution
- Oakhill Correctional Institution
- Oshkosh Correctional Institution
- Prairie du Chien Correctional Institution
- Racine Correctional Institution
- Racine Youthful Offender Correctional Facility
- Redgranite Correctional Institution
- Stanley Correctional Institution
- Sturtevant Transitional Facility
- Waupun Correctional Institution
- Wisconsin Secure Program Facility
- Taycheedah Correctional Institution
Correctional Center System facilities
- Black River Correctional Center
- Drug Abuse Correctional Center
- Felmers O. Chaney Correctional Center
- Flambeau Correctional Center
- Gordon Correctional Center
- John C. Burke Correctional Center
- Kenosha Correctional Center
- Marshall E. Sherrer Correctional Center
- McNaughton Correctional Center
- Oregon Correctional Center
- Sanger B. Powers Correctional Center
- St. Croix Correctional Center
- Thompson Correctional Center
- Winnebago Correctional Center
- Milwaukee Women’s Correctional Center
- Robert E. Ellsworth Correctional Center
How do I search for an Inmate in Wisconsin State Prison?
Interested persons can search for inmates held in a Wisconsin state prison by using the Inmate and Offender Search tool. The search tool requires querying parties to input some personal information on the inmate to retrieve results. The information needed includes the inmate’s full name (including any alias), race, date of birth, gender, age-range, DOC number, offender status, and the location of the facility they are held at.
Querying parties can obtain information such as the inmate’s criminal offense history and probation/parole details. However, the search tool may provide limited information on inmates. Persons who wish to make inquiries about the inmate search tool can send a U.S mail to the address:
Department of Corrections
P. O. Box 7925
Madison, WI 53707–7925
Maryland Inmate information can also be found with third-party websites that provide such services. The websites manage a registry of inmates in Maryland state prisons and provide such information to the public via a search tool.
Are Incarceration Records Public in Wisconsin?
Under the Wisconsin Open Records Law, records generated and managed by government agencies are available to the general public for inspection or duplication. Incarceration records and the criminal history of individuals are public in the state, and querying parties can obtain them from the record custodians. However, if the record requested is sealed/expunged, custodians cannot provide requestors with such information.
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.
Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
How to Look Up Jail Records in Wisconsin
The Sheriff’s Office in a Wisconsin county area is responsible for managing and disseminating records concerning the county jail. Jail records usually include the incarceration information and criminal history of inmates. Typically, querying parties can visit the Sheriff’s Office to request non-confidential jail records. The Directory of Wisconsin Sheriffs provides the location and contact information of all the Sheriff’s Departments in the state.
Individuals can also look up desired jail records online on the county sites or the Sheriff’s Office site. Additionally, the Department of Justice provides an Online Record Check System that gives public access to the criminal history of individuals. Users will have to create an account and pay the required fees to use the platform.
Can Jail Records be Expunged in Wisconsin?
Under Section 973.015 of the Wisconsin Statutes, a court is likely to expunge an individual’s jail record if:
- The criminal incident occurred when the offender was below twenty-five years old
- The jail sentence imposed is at most six years of incarceration
- The individuals must be done with their jail sentence
Persons who do not fall under the eligibility criteria may expunge their arrest records if a law officer apprehends them but the court did not convict them of any criminal offense.