(Juneau) The Dodge County Sheriff says they may have to close another jail pod unless the department call fill open correctional positions. The sheriff’s office has had difficulties finding qualified people to work at the jail. Recruitment challenges led to a pod closure in the fall.
Sheriff Dale Schmidt says their corrections wage is lower than any neighboring counties, which is a significant hurdle in their hiring process. He says the four state prisons in the county also make filling open positions difficult. The state has approved offering correctional officers of state facilities a premium pay. Dodge Correctional gets $2 an hour extra and Waupun can give out a $5 hourly increase because their vacancy rate has exceeded 40-percent.
Dodge County’s Human Resources Committee recently approved a $2-per-hour weekend increase for correctional officers as well as a retention bonus for the first and second quarters of the year. There is also a $6,000 sign-on bonus.
Schmidt says if they are not able to adequately staff the jail, closing another pod is a possibility which would have serious budgetary impacts on the county. He says his office would be losing a significant revenue source through contracted beds with the federal government.
Over $1.5-million-dollars is brought in annually through agreements with the Immigration Customs Enforcement and U.S. Marshals to house federal detainees in the jail. Schmidt says they rent those beds out at $86 a day which is more than it costs to house them. He says multiple studies over the years have shown that without these contracts, the tax levy would increase dramatically for taxpayers.
Schmidt says there are no safety concerns, and they do everything they can to protect their staff and the inmates. He notes they are cautiously optimistic that another jail pod will not need to be closed. The sheriff says they made a recent hire and now have 12 more positions to fill.