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WI Guard Settles Discrimination Suit for $105,000

Ablack prison guard who filed a discrimination suit against the Wisconsin Department of Corrections agreed to a $105,000 settlement in December, 1997, shortly after a U.S. district court judge ruled the case would go to trial. An unusual term of the settlement allowed Sgt. William Rogers to face DOC officials in a courtroom and speak his mind.

Rogers alleged in the suit that white co-workers ridiculed and demeaned him and other black guards while he worked at Columbia Correctional Center from 1990-93. Rogers addressed WI DOC Secretary Michael Sullivan and Columbia warden Jeffrey Endicott in open court.

"There is inmate abuse, abuse of female and minority officers," Rogers told Sullivan and Endicott. "You don't have to go to Texas to find that. We have it in Wisconsin. It goes on every day, and you know it," he said.

Rogers, who was reassigned to the Oak Hill Correctional Institution in 1994, says that employees refer to the DOC as the "Department of Corruption" because of the discrimination, nepotism, and favoritism that is allowed to continue.

After the unusual court hearing, Endicott told reporters that had Rogers come to him with his complaints, he would have taken "prompt and decisive action to stop such behavior.'

But Endicott's initial investigation of Rogers' discrimination complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission resulted in no disciplinary actions against alleged perpetrators.

According to a Wisconsin prisoner and PLN subscriber who sent us this story, blacks comprise 4 percent of Wisconsin's state population, but 40 percent of WI prisoners are black. An overwhelming majority of Wisconsin guards, he says, are "good old boy" whites.

"For example," he said in a letter to PLN , "at the sprawling prison complex in Oshkosh, the 1,790 prisoners are watched by a staff of hundreds, which includes one black (female) guard and one black social worker. At the venerable prison down the road in Waupun, the 1,300 prisoners (50 percent black) are `related to' by a total of zero black staff."

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel , Reader Mail

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