Prison Warden Arrested in Wisconsin Amid Probe Into Inmate Deaths

MADISON, Wis. – A shocking development unfolded in Wisconsin as the warden of the Waupun Correctional Institution found himself behind bars just hours before an anticipated press conference where further arrests related to investigations into inmate deaths were set to be announced.

The arrest of Randall Hepp, serving as the warden of the maximum-security prison since 2020, comes amidst a series of troubling incidents at the facility. Four inmate deaths have occurred at the prison since June, prompting federal lawsuits, state investigations, and even a request for intervention from the U.S. Department of Justice by the governor.

State Senator Van Wanggaard revealed that the warden, along with several others, are expected to face charges in connection to their roles at the troubled institution. The state Department of Corrections has been conducting internal investigations, leading to dozens of staff members being under scrutiny, on leave, or terminated over the past year.

This ongoing probe has put more than 20 individuals under internal investigation, with at least eight on administrative leave and nine others either fired or retired, according to a letter sent by the head of the Department of Corrections to the county sheriff. The request was made to keep the investigation open and share any findings promptly.

Amidst these troubles, Waupun also faced suspicions of a smuggling ring involving prison employees, leading to a state lockdown and subsequent investigations. The challenges have extended to conditions inside the prison, sparking federal lawsuits alleging mistreatment of inmates, with restrictions on movement and visitation as a result.

At the heart of the issue lies a prison facility with a long history – established in the 1850s and currently designed to house 882 inmates, yet holding 712 as of the latest report. The troubled past of Waupun Correctional Institution continues to present challenges and raise questions about the management and operations within its walls.