Jail security panel releases recommendations - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

UPDATE: Jail security panel releases recommendations

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MARATHON COUNTY (WAOW) -

The Marathon County jail security panel has released its findings to help make the jail a safer place.

The panel was created in April after authorities say an inmate, Fredrick Morris, 20, attacked two corrections officers, one of them critically, back in March. Since that attack, the panel made up of five community members, have held several meetings.

Now, the final report is out, but the findings are far from positive.

"This was an under performing operation," said jail panelist Paul Jones.

But panel members say that's in the past, and it's time for change.

"There were many good people in place in this organization, but they weren't being allowed to function at the upper levels of their ability. Now, they are," said Jones.

During a news conference Monday, the panel released a series of recommendations it says will move the jail in a better direction. Some of those recommendations include updating old equipment and establishing new policies for inmates and officers.

"What we have to realize is that its going to be a living document that we take a look back at and then let the panel, and county leadership know we're on track," Chief Deputy Chad Billeb said.

That's why panel members say their work isn't over.

"We feel better about where we stand now but lets face it, it was a bad situation and we want to see it get better and we sense there's a good commitment to do that," panelist Michael Beck said.

"I'm certain we're going to make progress," Billeb added.

In fact, some progress has already been made at the jail. Authorities say after the inmate attack every corrections officer was armed with a taser. In addition, now many officers wear ear pieces to communicate with other staff.

"We're throwing a lot of change at them all at once because it needed to be done, and it's going to continue to come until we have the proper infrastructure in place," Billeb explained.

So what's next? Marathon County Sheriff Scott Parks says now he will review the report

"We'll start to take a look at the different recommendations and rank them out and start to tackle them," Sheriff Parks said.

There's no timeline for when that might happen. But the sheriff says his department will continue to work to make safety a top priority.

The sheriff's department says it's rearranging its budget to put more focus on these safety measures. But, the budget will not increase. Last week the Human Resources Committee approved hiring two new corrections officers. They're expected to start later this year.

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