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Former inmates call for more staffing, better training in Marathon County jail

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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) - It's one thing for an expert to say the Marathon County jail was understaffed, but some former inmates repeated that story to the county's independent safety panel on Tuesday.

Three graduates from the county's OWI abatement court gave their thoughts to the panel. Former inmate Rob Ujda says he didn't feel safe. "It would be nice to have more guards more training to help reduce the incidents they've had in the jail." He says that corrections officers also need to do more to properly enforce and act on the rules and policies of the jail in a consistent manner.

Ken Chaignot brought up the lack of attention provided to inmate grievances inside the jail. "You'd be handing those grievance slips to the COs and they'd crumple 'em up." Chaignot says he'd like to see the supervisors making more rounds inside the blocks as well.

Jail chaplain Ray Slatton told the panel that there needs to be a better measure of respect between the COs and the inmates as well. "It's important for the inmates to respect the officer, but the officers still have to maintain professionalism. If they cross that line, that's where the breakdown starts." He says his group and his counselors try to do a lot to help inmates out, but that one bad incident can undo years of work by chaplain staff.

The panel will continue working on a final recommendation to the county board later this month.

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