Conservative law firm demands ministers see prisoners

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A conservative law firm wants state corrections officials to relax COVID-19 safety protocols and allow volunteer ministers to visit prison inmates.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty sent a letter Thursday to Department of Corrections Secretary Kevin Carr complaining about the no-visitor policy the department adopted in March 2020 as the pandemic was taking hold. The firm argued that the policy bars volunteer ministers from visiting inmates, amounting to a violation of state law that gives clergy the right to visit inmates at least weekly and is likely unconstitutional.

The firm demands the department restore the inmates’ rights or face a lawsuit.

“In sum, the DOC’s policy is illegal and the DOC must act now to restore the rights of Wisconsin’s inmates to freely exercise their religion,” the letter said. “One year of violations is enough.”

Corrections spokesman John Beard said the department had received the letter and was evaluating it.