In addition, a deputy warden promoted to warden got a 26 percent pay raise, according to Department of Corrections records provided to the State Journal by the Wisconsin State Employees' Union. The seven wardens, along with an eighth that did not receive a raise, are part of a leadership shuffle at Wisconsin's correctional institutions. The new assignments and raises bring their salaries to nearly $100,000 a year, the records showed.
Department of Corrections spokeswoman Joy Staab said in an email that the salaries of wardens and deputy wardens in Wisconsin has been significantly lower than similar executive positions in state government.
"DOC made the decision to set the current pay rate for wardens more than a year ago in an effort to make their pay more equivalent to other comparable leadership positions," she wrote. "In accordance with this decision, all warden transfers and promotions in the past year were placed at the new rate."
Records show the largest pay increase, 26 percent, went to Reed Richardson, who was deputy warden at Jackson Correctional Institution and was promoted to warden at Stanley Correctional Institution.
Brian Cunningham, president of the Wisconsin Association for Correctional Law Enforcement union, said the wardens' raises are out of scale with the 1 percent raises that most state employees received.
"The boss takes care of himself before he takes care of his men. What kind of a hypocritical position is that?" he asked. "There are no checks and balances anymore."
Cunningham said increases in employee-paid premiums for health insurance and pension have actually reduced his take-home pay.
Starting pay for correctional officers is about $15 an hour, meaning that an officer is eligible for food stamps and other assistance for the poor if they have a family of four, Cunningham said.