May 7, 2010

State raises concerns about county jail's medical staffing; County Board eyes spending increase

(Above) The Racine County Jail. (Below-left) Sheriff Bob Carlson inside the jail. 

The state Department of Corrections removed at least 25 inmates from the Racine County Jail earlier this year over concerns about the level of medical staffing in the jail.

Sheriff Bob Carlson said Friday the state relocated some, but not all, of its prisoners to other jails after pressing the county to add medical staff. He said the County Board is now looking to do just that.

Board members are scheduled to vote Tuesday on adding a full-time nurse practioner to the jail and increasing the number of doctor hours from six to 12 per week. The additional staffing by Health Professionals Ltd. would cost $153,750.

Carlson said he expected the board to approve the additional staff.

"We feel it's a significant step forward," he said.

But even if the positions are approved, and then filled, the sheriff said he didn't know if the state would return the removed inmates to the jail.

"It will depend on their needs," Carlson said.

Another source close to the situation said the loss of the state inmates is another blow to county revenue, and that it's resulted in a hiring freeze on jail guards. The county even had to pull at least one job offer from an employee who had given notice at work, the source said.

Carlson said there was no official "freeze" on hiring, but confirmed there wasn't a need to hire any new guards. The jail's population is so low they've closed an entire wing of the facility to save on costs.

The jail housed 676 inmates on Wednesday, nearly 200 below the jail's capacity of 860 inmates. The county spent $29 million to renovate the jail and add 210 beds for inmates. Part of the expansion included plans to increase revenue by renting out beds to outside law enforcement agencies, but it's been a bad year for that business.

First, the local inmate population is down, Carlson said. The summer months will likely see a boost in the numbers, he said, but it's unclear if the increase will require hiring more employees or opening the closed wing.

The Department of Corrections' contract is the second group of out-of-town inmates the county has lost this year. In February, Kenosha County ended an $880,000 contract with Racine County to house juvenile delinquents at the Juvenile Detention Center. Both amount to lost county revenue that will have to be made up in the county's budgets.

19 comments:

  1. Let the state pay for the additional medical staff or better yet, transport the inmates to Madison and release them inside the Capital Building

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  2. Dickert = Failure

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  3. Again, on Dickert's watch.

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  4. McReynold's watch!

    (Mayor has no control over the County Jail. This debacle -- and responsibility for all the inmate deaths -- belongs to Mac.)

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  5. more like 125 prisoners were removed = mismanagement

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  6. Who cares - they are prisoners! Why not care more for people that are actually productive members of society. I could care less if some felon doesn't get to see a doctor.

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  7. The mayor has nothing to do with the jail.

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  8. "The City Council Jail"???? Huh????

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  9. The Post should check out the Medical services available at the County Juvenile Detention Center on Taylor Ave. I bet they are worse than those that the State is concerned about in the adult jail

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  10. "The jail's population is so low they've closed an entire wing of the facility to save on costs."

    We just built this place a couple of years ago. Now it sits partially empty?

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  11. they didn't need it when Mac whinned that they were overcrowded all they wanted was to build a hotel so they could make money from outside soarces such as Kenosha county.

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  12. Repeated HSD problems and jail problems are the visible effects of years of major budget cuts. I'm sure one can find similar but not publicized problems in every area of the county. The taxpayers demanded that property taxes be cut so the County has been cutting taxes. Cutting taxes means cutting spending unless you are the State or federal governments. Now there are those who are suprised and angered that these things are happening. Staffing costs money and running a jail costs money. The taxpayer has to realize this is the result of tax cuts. Some of us are just surprised it took so long to see visible results of the tax cuts. I'm not saying that the cuts were right or wrong but logic says after years of cutting taxes and staff this is the logical result.

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  13. Dickert should be monitoring all government operations within city confines, but he is not. He is busy cocktailing with the jetset. More failure and more to come I am sure.

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  14. Then why do they have inmates still sleeping on the floor if they have SO much space? I understand they wouldn't open a whole wing for the few (or more) that are currently on the floor... Interesting!

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  15. Since they built the new part the whole jail has not been in operation. They did not build it for the people of Racine. They built it to make money from other agencies. Also, reading all the news stories it seems like the nursing staff has been less than par for some time. I do not think giving a company more money is the right answer. I say fire that company and hire county nurses again. Is the current company doing everything they said they were going to do in their contract. That would be interesting to investigate. Mac has hired so many companies to do jobs of county employees. I do not see the cost savings in thaat.

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  16. First of all... if I were police chief or Sheriff for a day, I'd fill that place up pretty quickly. One drive down Jacato and Byrd would probably net me 100 folks with warrants without even trying.

    Secondly, these pieces of garbage are CRIMINALS, they did something to get in there. Let them rot. We give our felons better health care than we give to our elders.

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  17. Maybe Mac can help defray costs by giving up his high speed dsl. Better yet, rent out his office since he prefers to work out of his car anyway.

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  18. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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