Steven Walters, Bill Banning Guard Sex With Inmates Approved, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, June 4, 2003.
MADISON -- The state Legislature gave final approval Wednesday to a
bill making it a felony for prison and jail guards to have sex with
inmates, ending a four-year push for the change that had been blocked
by unions representing guards.
On a voice vote, the state Senate passed the bill, sending it to Gov.
Jim Doyle, who will sign it into law, an aide said. The Assembly
unanimously passed the measure in April.
Wisconsin had been one of only four states not explicitly prohibiting
sexual conduct between prison and jail staff members and inmates.
"We think it's wonderful news," said Lara Stemple, executive director
of Stop Prisoner Rape, a national human rights organization. "We agree
corrections officers should not be allowed to engage in sexual acts
with prisoners. We think this legislation is needed to keep that from
The chief Senate sponsor, Sen. Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), said
opposition to the change from unions representing prison guards
collapsed this year, making passage possible.
Democrats, who lost control of the Senate after last year's elections,
had blocked votes on Assembly-passed bills in the past.
For the last four years, the bill had been "very controversial,"
Fitzgerald said. "I know the unions backed off, and that helped."
Martin Beil, executive director of the Wisconsin State Employees
Union, could not be reached for comment.
In the past, union officials argued it was enough punishment if guards
who had sexual contact with inmates lost their jobs for that conduct,
so it was not necessary to also make that a crime.
But Fitzgerald said publicity over an incident at the Taycheedah
prison for women, in which inmate Jackie Noyes was impregnated by a
prison guard overseeing her - and the inmate was ordered to serve
nearly a year of solitary confinement - also helped the bill pass. The
guard, Matthew Emery, was fired.
The Journal Sentinel reported that Noyes was one of four female
inmates placed in solitary confinement for having a personal
relationship with guards overseeing them or for trying to report
sexual misconduct. All four were released from solitary after the
newspaper articles were published.
Under the bill, any prison or jail guards, social workers or other
criminal justice system officials who have sexual conduct with inmates
they supervise would be guilty of a Class C felony punishable by up to
40 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.
Fitzgerald said guards who have sex with inmates betray the public
trust because they are in positions of authority over inmates.
He said he began pushing for the change after a district attorney
called him, complaining that sexual contact between a guard and inmate
was not a crime.