After two-year corrections officer shortage, Monroe County Jail relishes spike in new hires

SPARTA, Wis. (WKBT) — Wisconsin correctional facilities statewide have faced staffing shortages for the past two years.

In Monroe County, Sheriff Wes Revels and Jail Administrator and Capt. Stan Hendrickson say these shortages strained their department.

“We have mandatory posts that need to be covered. It’s not that we can leave those positions vacant,” Revels said.

Revels, Hendrickson and deputies are familiar with the term all hands on deck.

“Just the amount of work that they were putting in,” Hendrickson said. “You just get tired, you start seeing fatigue. It’s just a very stressful time.”

Corrections staff left for a variety of reasons, Revels said. Some left for higher-paying jobs or moved to different parts of law enforcement.

“A lot of that group of 25 corrections officers who are largely responsible for the care and custody of those inmates, we were down nine at one point,” Revels said.

Monroe County jail staff typically work 12-hour shifts. The shortage stretched shifts even longer.

“They’re working sometimes 16 and then having to come back for another 16. That’s very hard on them, very stressful,” Revels said.

Now, staff are seeing a light at the end of the tunnel.

“We have just one vacancy that we made an offer on a couple of days ago,” Revels said.

It means a lot for a staff that has already pushed through many challenges.

With a fresh crop coming in, leaders are already seeing a change.

“Morale’s coming back, people are more lighthearted. It just feels good to know that we have a full complement,” Hendrickson said.

Both Revels and Hendrickson are not sure what caused the spike.

Whatever it is, they are thankful.

The newest group of corrections officers will be fully trained in by mid-August.

Staffing shortages are not a problem only for jailers, Revels said, noting that law enforcement statewide is understaffed.

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