Agency 101: Department of Corrections

Oct 12, 2022 | Administration

Inside of a prison

Click here for a printable version of our report or read the full version below.

State Agency Fast Facts: 

  • The Department of Corrections’ 2021-2023 budget was set at $2,389,166,900 and has over 10,000 employees statewide.
  • The largest category of employees are correctional officers with 4,637 positions in 2022.
  • The Department operates 18 correctional institutions, the Wisconsin Center System, and two substance abuse treatment facilities and has over 20,000 prison inmates.
  • The Department is also responsible for supervising more than 60,000 offenders on probation, parole, or extended supervision. Within DOC, the Division of Juvenile Corrections is responsible for the supervision and incarceration of offenders under the age of 18. There are usually fewer than 120 juveniles in DOC facilities.
    • Grow Academy – a small minimum security facility (fewer than 20 youths) that provides education with an agricultural focus outside Madison.
    • Lincoln Hills School for Boys – Average Daily Population 75.2 youths (2020)
    • Copper Lake School for Girls – Average Daily Population 10 youths (2020)
    • Mendota Juvenile Treatment Center – Average Daily Population 19.9 (2020)

Did you know?

  • The Department of Corrections operates three inmate staffed farms with approximately 1100 dairy cows and over 2,000 acres under cultivation. The farms produce milk and ice cream for consumption in DOC facilities.
  • Oshkosh Correctional Institution has a prison braille translation program in which inmates translate textbooks, music and maps into braille as part of the Wisconsin Braille Book Project, which provides free educational material for visually impaired students.

Reform History:

In the 2017-2019 Budget, Governor Walker proposed eliminating the parole commission and replace it with a Governor appointed Director of Paroles position within DOC to make parole decisions. This was estimated to save the state $1.8 million and eliminate 14 positions. This change was not included in the budget.

Keep an Eye on…

The construction of new juvenile corrections facilities to replace Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake Schools must be
funded, completed and staffed. The new facilities will improve juvenile corrections statewide and converting Lincoln Hills to an adult correctional institution will reduce overcrowding of the adult population.

Close Calls:

  • Governor Evers recommended making all bail jumping charges misdemeanors, meaning anyone not showing up for a criminal court hearing would get a slap on the wrist.
    • The Legislature removed this provision.
  • Governor Evers wanted to end the DOC’s Serious Juvenile Offender (SJO) Program. This program requires juveniles convicted of serious felonies to be held in juvenile correction facilities for up to three years or for those convicted of crimes that would result in a 25 year sentence until the age of 25. The program also includes more intensive community supervision, including the use of GPS tracking. Do you think this would make Wisconsin a safer place to live?
    • The Legislature removed this provision.

IRG Wants to Know:

If you were in charge for a day, what reforms would you make to the department? Email Alex Ignatowski, IRG’s Director of State Budget and Government Reform, at AI@reforminggovernment.org.