NBC15 Investigates: Inmate transfer process, Chris Watts confirmed in WI

Chris Watts
Chris Watts(NBC15)
Published: Dec. 14, 2018 at 10:39 AM CST
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A Colorado man who killed his pregnant wife and two children is serving time at the Dodge Correctional Institution in Waupun, according to the Wisconsin Department of Corrections.

NBC15 submitted an open records request for the confirmation, and the DOC released the documents Dec. 14.

Christopher Watts, 33, was transferred to Dodge Correctional Institution in Waupun, Wis., on Dec. 3. Watts was moved out of Colorado for safety reasons.

Watts pleaded guilty in November in Colorado court to first-degree murder and other charges in the death of his wife and young daughters. He was sentenced to five life sentences with no possibility of parole.

The Colorado Department of Corrections has said the victims' family are aware of his change in location.

Transfer process and cost

When there is a transfer, it's a an inmate for an inmate under the Interstate Corrections Compact.

Inmates may be transferred between states or the federal prison system under the Interstate Corrections Compact due to safety and security concerns associated with housing an inmate within a specific state, according to the Wisconsin DOC.

Inmates considered for transfer under the Compact generally include inmates whose presence in that state's correctional facilities pose a significant safety or security concern.

Examples may include those who have committed especially infamous or heinous crimes, former law enforcement or correctional officers, high-ranking gang leaders, extremely dangerous inmates, inmates who have been involved in a facility disturbance, or inmates who pose a significant escape risk.

It is up to the state where the inmate is originally convicted and confined to make the decision to send an inmate out of state. They are responsible for transporting the inmate to the state where they will be housed, as well as returning them to the originating state for court dates, etc. Wisconsin uses contracted inmate transportation vendors to transport Wisconsin inmates between states. Transportation decisions regarding specific inmates are based on an assessment of the inmate's security risk, medical condition, and other factors.

There is generally no cost to the originating state for housing the inmate, except that the state where the inmate is housed may bill the originating state for certain medical costs.

There are currently 28 inmates from other states housed in Wisconsin and 31 inmates from Wisconsin housed in other states under the Interstate Corrections Compact.

The specific provisions of the Interstate Corrections Compact are codified at Wis. Stats. 302.25.

NBC15 Investigates called the Colorado Department of Corrections for confirmation of Watts' transfer and location in Wisconsin, however, the CO DOC could not confirm the details specific to Watts. The reason the Colorado DOC could not confirm how Watts got to Wisconsin was for safety reasons. The spokesperson said when transferring inmates, it's a very dangerous time for the DOC because the inmate is outside the safety of the perimeter.

However, the spokesperson for Colorado DOC said the cost of transferring prisoners depends on a number of variables: how much staff they need to use to travel with the inmate, which depends on how risky the inmate is, how and where they're traveling to, etc.