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Goal: Turnaround Marathon County Jail to top performer in state


WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAU) -- Marathon County’s jail has generated a lot of negative publicity over the past year, but county leaders are determined to turn that around. The jail was one of the top funding priorities on the county’s 2014 budget passed last week.

County Administrator Brad Karger says work by county staff and the community task force showed supervisors what was needed. “The problems were identified this summer, and we’ll be fully resourced so that we can recover that facility and really go to what we’re anticipating to be the top performing jail in the state.”

In 2013, the jail has been regularly overcrowded, and has had equipment and staffing problems exposed that affect the safety and security of both staff and inmates.

A prisoner violently attacked two corrections officers last spring, hospitalizing one of them for several months.

Administrator Karger says he has worked with new Sheriff Scott Parks and others to develop a plan of action for the jail, which includes the newly hired jail administrator, additional corrections officers, and updates to the facility. The faulty intercom system has also been repaired.

Karger believes the jail is much better than before, but they’re not satisfied because the goal is excellence. “The Sheriff and I have agreed that we want to be the top performing jail in the state, so that’s going to require change of schedules, re-commitment to everything. We’re anticipating we can accomplish that in five years, but we set a high goal and we’ve hired the right people. We now have the resources in place and we have the talent in place. I don’t think there’s anything now that’s going to stop us.”

Karger says part of that goal is to better manage the jail population by segregating more dangerous prisoners and by expanded use of newer home monitoring devices for non-violent offenders.

There have been discussions about future changes to the Marathon County Courthouse and Jail, but Karger says this long range jail plan has nothing to do with that and centers on the facility they have now.

(The interview with Brad Karger can be heard on our website, here.)