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Marathon Co. Jail improvements started before study committee makes recommendations


WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) -- Marathon County is addressing issues in the jail, even before the committee assembled to look for improvements issues its report. One of the issues is the number of staff members available for the jail. Sheriff Scott Parks says they were aware of the need for additional staff.

Parks says they have again requested two more corrections officers to address a staffing shortage. “This year, we decided that we were going to request that again and ask for two new positions to bolster up the number of individuals that we have working on shifts inside the correctional facility. It’s a normal position request that we were doing, and actually has nothing to do with the jail independent panel study.”

Along with rule changes for prisoners, several physical improvements have been made in the jail just since Scott Parks became person in charge of the Sheriff’s Department. “We've made some changes to the jail’s visitation secure phone system. We’ve put a window glass film on it allowing us to see in, but not inmates being allowed to see out, so it allows our corrections officers to travel down the hallways and approach the cell block without being visible.”

Corrections officers have also been armed with tasers since the attack.

Parks says they are also studying having twelve-hour shifts for corrections officers to make sure there are enough staff members on at critical times.

The new Sheriff says they were aware of several issues, but is looking forward to the July 8th hearing when the Jail Study Committee makes its recommendations known. “There’s a lot of things that we’ve put into place, and I could go on and on about different corrections that we’ve made in the facility that we were aware of, and I’m looking forward to the panel’s release so I can see recommendations that they have possibly given us, too.”

The Jail Study Committee was formed after a March 27th incident where inmate Fredrick Morris attacked Corrections Officer Julie Christensen and Corrections Officer Denny Woodward. Christensen is still receiving medical attention.