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Committee hears of growing problems at Marathon County Jail

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Marathon County jail
Marathon County jail

WAUSAU, WI (WTAQ) - Problems have been building for years at the Marathon County Jail in Wausau.

That’s what a citizens committee was told Tuesday, as it begins to consider improvements in the jail’s procedures following the attacks of two correctional officers by an inmate in late March.

A sheriff’s lieutenant said some jail officers have waited for years to get basic training – even though the state requires such training to be completed within one year on the job.

County Administrator Brad Karger described a series of surveys showing a lack of leadership in both the jail and the sheriff’s department. He called it a “complete collapse of culture.”

A number of issues were brought up from a 2012 jail review by the state, which uncovered a lack of proper recreation facilities – plus concerns over inmate access to mail and library materials.

The sheriff and jail administrator positions are both empty at the moment. And committee members said it’s a good time to rectify the major issues. But chairman Paul Jones cautioned that it won’t help just to add more people to the existing situation. In his words, “Adding numbers to a dysfunctional system is not the answer.”

The panel hopes to get input from judges, as well as the new sheriff to be appointed by Governor Scott Walker. The panel will meet 5 to 7 more times, and its final session is set for July 1st.

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