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Karger: Recidivism problem huge for Marathon County

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WAUSAU, WI (WSAU) -  Marathon County’s Administrator is pleased that a new sheriff has been appointed. Brad Karger says all three of the finalists from within the Sheriff’s Department were solid candidates, and having Scott Parks officially take over means the department can take the first step towards healing the department.

The Marathon County Sheriff’s Department has been dealing with jail and administration issues from the previous administration.

Karger says one of the common goals he shares with Sheriff Scott Parks is looking for ways to reduce recidivism, as a lot of jail inmates keep coming back into the system. “Our correctional system is really confounded by people who just keep re-entering, and somewhere along the line we have to have an intervention. Otherwise, what happens is we see the next generation.”

Karger says when it comes to people who frequently end up in jail, several statistics and studies point to one common denominator. “There’s no easy answers, but I’m going to tell you, drugs and alcohol are at the base of this, and we have to as a community get a better handle on that at all levels.”

Jail populations are also a concern. Karger says the cost of housing inmates is high both in the Marathon County Jail and the roughly 30 to 40 prisoners housed at the Lincoln County Jail for nearly 50 dollars a day. For now, Karger says it’s still more cost effective to ship prisoners to other counties than to build a bigger jail, but that could change in a few years. “There are a number of counties who have extra space, and Lincoln County recognizes that competition and excess supply, so we have a good price. That won’t last much longer. The same trends that are happening here are happening there, and there will be more people incarcerated (yearly) since 2008.”

Karger says when it comes to the issue of alcohol and drugs, it will take a cultural change over a long time with a consistent message and a lot of community participation. He’s also open to other ideas and initiatives that may reduce recidivism and reduce the county’s cost.

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