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Jail Inspection Says Maintenance Needed

The 2013 annual inspection by the State of Wisconsin Department of Corrections was presented at the Monday, June 10 meeting of the Marinette County Law Enforcement Committee. The inspection was conducted on May 27, a date on which there were 145 inmates at the facility with another four inmates assigned to electronic monitoring.

The inspectors noted several positive operational changes since the last inspection, most notably that the two part-time officers last year were converted to full time positions after the conclusion of the Federal Grant program. Also noted were a switch to a new training model for the field training program, additional cameras along with an upgraded DVR capability, and collaboration taking place to set up programs for courts to monitor alcohol electronically as a condition of bond.

Among the initiatives noted, the report pointed out the addition of stair railings, collaboration with Emergency Management and Courthouse Personnel regarding courthouse emergency procedures, and revisions to the Juvenile Detention contract.

The inspection noted that all correctional officers are certified with the State of Wisconsin and that the required annual recertification is being conducted both in-house and through outside training. With a number of staff being able to provide the continued training, this does save the county budget money for these costs. The report also recognized that at Marinette County, there is a Field Training Officer assigned to every shift.

The programming at the Marinette County Jail continues to impress the state. Programming is an essential part of jail operations and increases success in proper jail management. Marinette County continues to recognize that there is a benefit to providing programming in the jail facilities to inmates. Programming helps to prepare and educate the inmates in essential living and lift skills that can enable them to potentially succeed and not re-offend.

The reports states, “Marinette County should be extremely proud of the efforts that have been made to increase the programming within the correctional facility. Grants and funding received has allowed inmates the ability to continue their high school education and beyond.”

In this regard, the report points out that in 2013 thus far there have been 11 GED completions at the jail. Two of the completions were with high honors and two with honors. Particularly, the reported states, “There were 100 GED completions in the NWTC Region in 2012, with 25 of those coming from the Marinette County Jail.”

Officer Ellen Hanneman and Administrative Office Tom Bourque were commended for their roles in the continued development and success of the education programs.

The inspection report did make two notable recommendations for the Marinette County Jail. The first was in the area of facility maintenance.

The report states, “Although the facility is only nine years old, it is important to remember that it is utilized on a continual 24/7 basis. That being said, during the inspection process notice was taken with regard to ongoing wear and tear throughout. The age is beginning to show in areas that should be reviewed for upkeep.” The recommendation suggested there be a joint tour of management with maintenance to formally identify areas that need attention.

The second recommendation was in the area of a Quality Control Team.

The report states, “It is recommended for a cross section of staff members to meet on a regular basis to review inmate files to ensure all areas are completed during the stay of inmates as well as cell check documentation.”

Nancy Thelen, the Detention Facilities Specialist who performed the inspection concluded, “Please extend by sincere gratitude to Administrator Bob Majewski and the remainder of the staff for their professionalism and for accommodating my inspection. Jail Administrator Majewski is doing an excellent job and his dedication to the overall operations continues to remain evident. Correctional officers clearly take great pride in the facility and the job they are performing as demonstrated by the facility climate on the date of the inspection.”

The Marinette County jail was then approved by the Department of Corrections for the detention of adult offenders with a maximum capacity of 165.

In other matters, the Committee heard an explanation from County Finance Director Pat Kass on procedures regarding transfers, submitting accounts to collections, and writing-off accounts that are deemed to be uncollectable.

The genesis for the explanation stems from the current lack of information that used to be provided to the Committee prior to the consolidation of the County Finance Department. Prior to the consolidation, the jail had a finance person who knew and explained everything.

While Kass were present, Committee Chairman Ken Keller questioned why the Committee of jurisdiction doesn’t get to approve sending delinquent accounts to collections before they are actually sent to collections, or writing-off accounts before they are actually written-off. Dealing with financial matters used to be a core function of the committees of the County Board, but to many supervisors, that seems to be slipping from their grasp too.

Specifically to the collections question, County Administrator Ellen Sorensen brought up the possibility of possibly bring all collections work back “in-house” instead of farming it out to outside organizations. The move could save the county some money, but may require the hiring of specific individual to perform the work. The Jail, Health and Human Services, and the Clerk of Courts office all have accounts that are sent out to collections.

As to the procedure at Law Enforcement, Kass was asked to develop a recommendation for the next meeting of the Committee in connection with collections.

The Committee forwarded the County Board, subject to Corporation Counsel review, a contract with CenturyLink Sales Solutions to purchase the 911 Phone Sentinel 4.0 upgrade that was discussed at the last County Board meeting. The contract amount totals $146,393.06.

Interim Communication Director Kirsten Bellisle gave her first solo update from Dispatch. She noted that Dispatch call volume has increased since they have begun picking up the after-hours calls for the Adapt Clinic. Bellisle continued that she will be appointing someone to the Assistant Director position in the months ahead.

The Committee indicated that they were not sure yet how they were going to go about filling the Communications Director position. The choices are to fill it from within or to make a wider search for candidates. That decision will need to be made in the months ahead.

Eric Burmeister delivered the update from Emergency Management. The Committee approved a request to apply for, and accept if awarded, the Fiscal Year 2013 Department of Homeland Security-Port Security Grant in the amount of $24,623. Burmeister explained that he was keeping the request below $25,000 because anything over that amount would need a matching amount from the county. If granted, Burmeister explained that he would like to purchase software upgrades for the Hazmat meters and also purchase a handheld, forward-looking infra-red camera.

Committee approval was given to an $11,277.55 expense that is part of a software support agreement for the booking photo software at the jail. The software computerizes everything, including publishing the photo and information to all applicable systems automatically. The agreement is a shared agreement with the City of Marinette. The county pays $7,518.36; the city will pay $3,759.19.

Majewski reported that the jail received four bids for the Jail Inmate Phone System yearly contract. Only three of the bids satisfied all of the needed requirements. Out of those three, the Jail Committee rated each, coming up with a recommendation. That group recommended the current phone provider, Inmate Calling Solutions (ICS).

According to Majewski, the three bids were rated very closely, but what tipped the scales for ICS was the fact that they provide the jail with the highest commission and yet at the same time have the lowest rates for inmate calls. The contract is a 5-year contract. It was forwarded to the County Board for approval.

Majewski’s Jail Report highlighted that jail population for the last 30 days averaged just over 130. This is approximately 32 more inmates than last year and 41 more than for the same time period in 2011.

In his Sheriff’s Report, Jerry Sauve noted that summer seems to have its stride in the county, at least from the type of calls to which the department is responding. He noted that this past week saw two very serious gun-related calls, one in Niagara and one in the Town of Stephenson. The Niagara call ended with a surrender. The Stephenson call ended with the person shooting himself and ending up in the hospital.

Sauve also mentioned that there are two major drug investigations in the county going on that are coming to a conclusion. Without revealing any more information, Sauve added that some major activity is being taken down. He will issue a press release when it is appropriate.

In response to a question from a Committee member, Sauve mentioned there has been some stepped up numbers of tavern inspections in recent weeks, especially with underage drinking and indoor smoking.


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