The purpose of Waupun Correctional Institution (WCI) is to provide inmates, staff, and the public with a safe and secure institution, while encouraging positive growth and enabling inmates to successfully reenter society.
On March 14, 1851, Wisconsin's first governor, Nelson Dewey, appointed a three-member prison commission to select a site for what would be named the Wisconsin State Prison. On July 4 of that year, Waupun was chosen due to its close proximity to the proposed Rock River Valley Railroad and the abundance of good quality limestone for prison contruction. Construction of a temporary prison structure began later that year and the first permanent building (the South Cell Hall) was completed in 1854, which remains in use today. This cell hall had 288 cells and was built using inmate labor at a cost of $325 per cell. Additional cell halls were built in 1854, 1906, and 1913, all of which also remain in use today. The main administration building was built in 1855 and the large, ornate stone and iron wall was constructed in 1858.
The prison was home to both male and female prisoners until 1933, when the women were moved to the Wisconsin Industrial Home for Women in Taycheedah. The Wisconsin State Prison was renamed Waupun Correctional Institution in 1979. On January 22, 1992, the Wisconsin State Prison Historic District was entered on the State and National Registers of Historic Places.
Continual improvements to its buildings and infrastructure have allowed Waupun Correctional Institution to meet the operational needs of a modern prison. In 1998, a new Health and Restrictive Housing Complex opened, replacing buildings that dated back to the 1940's. The Food Services building underwent a complete remodel in 2015 to better meet the needs of serving over 4,320 meals per day to inmates and uniformed staff.