Resurfaced report shows Marathon County jail is understaffed - WFXS, MyFoxWausau - News and Weather for Wausau, WI

Resurfaced report shows Marathon County jail is understaffed

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MARATHON COUNTY (WAOW) -

As a Marathon County corrections officer lies in a hospital, there are new questions about what could have prevented the attack that put her there.

A 2007 study, commissioned by Marathon County, showed the jail had the lowest ratio of staff per inmate within five peer counties including Portage County and Wood County. Two consultants who specialize in jail design and productivity conducted the study. Its purpose was to identify weaknesses within the Marathon County jail and address them in future renovations.

But no renovations were ever made.

"We haven't reduced the number of staffing, we just stayed with what we had," Marathon County Administrator Brad Karger explained.

When the report was released, the Marathon County jail had 49 full-time employees. But, the report recommended more than that. In a statement, the consultants wrote, "the consultants recommend a staff level that insures adequate numbers of security staff doing the right things at the right time to insure inmate safety and security and to reduce county liability."

But, Karger tells Newsline 9, "the study was presented to the board, and it was discussed. The belief was that we had sufficient staff to safely and securely operate the facility."

The report has resurfaced after authorities say two corrections officers were injured last week when an inmate attacked them. Regardless, Karger says staffing levels had nothing to do with the attack.

"Rather than look defensive I think we need to look forward at this point to what we really need," Karger said.

Earlier this year the Marathon County Board rejected plans for a jail renovation sending the county back to the drawing board. Now, Karger says the board has narrowed it down to two options.

The first option would expand the existing courthouse, jail and sheriff's department and keep all county offices in one building. The second option would split the two into separate buildings.

Right now, Karger says there is no timeline for when a decision would be made about those renovations.

"A lot of people are upset and justifiably so, both in the community and on our staff in regards to staffing and I think a fresh look at it with a fresh pair of eyes will benefit everyone," he said.

The Marathon County Sheriff's Department along with members of DCI and county officials will hold a news conference Tuesday at 10 a.m. Newsline 9 will live-stream the event on WAOW.com.

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