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Booth and Beyond

FROM THE CORNER

Happy Father’s Day to all of the father’s reading this column. Here is an inspirational thought for your consumption as penned by Billy Graham: “A good father is one of the most unsung, unpraised, unnoticed and yet one of the most valuable assets in our society. *** With a great deal of activity in our lives, this week’s column will be devoted to the operation of the Stanley Correctional Institution (SCI) and will focus on the April 13, 2022 Community RelationsBoardMeeting. Thismeetingisthecommunitiesopportunity to be provided information on what is going on at SCI and to ask any questions related to the operation of that facility in our community. *** Lack of staffing at SCI continues to be a major problem, which then causes a great amount of forced overtime for Officers (Guards). As of April 13 (the date we met), there were 67 Officer and 3 Sergeant vacancies, which puts SCI at a 29% vacancy rate for uniformed staff. There is currently a 6-month transfer hold to other institutions. With 21 pending transfers out, if those were honored the vacancy rate would be closer to 39%. Recruitment for a May Officer Academy was occurring, but at that time numbers of applicants were very low. Staff did recently get a $3 per hour raise but that hadn’t had any impact on hiring. Starting CorrectionalOfficerpayisnowat$22.89perhour. Withwarm weather approaching, summer activities are being reviewed to determine what will need to be limited to accommodate the staff shortages. At the same time SCI is still needing to send three staff to assist staffing Waupun Correctional Institution that has even a greater number of vacancies (over 50%). Other vacancies at SCI included five Social Workers, two Nurse Clinicians, a 60% Nurse Clinician 2, a Physician, Nurse Practitioner and a Psychiatrist. There were also a Teacher and Librarian postilions vacant, but they had candidates to interview for those positions. *** There are no easy answers to the vacancy problem. An Officers schedule is challenging for some and shift work isn’t popular. Some people feel there simply are not enough benefits anymore to warrant working at a prison with difficult clientele. Suggestions range from returning to the days of no cost health insurance, offering child care subsidies for families, increasing shift differential, and many staff express frustration for not getting overtime pay when they get forced for extra shifts, if they have used leave timewithintheweek. Act10impactedthebottomlineofmany employees who are looking elsewhere for employment, or choosing to retire earlier rather than later in life. The Department of Corrections is trying to get creative in attracting employees. Rep. Jesse James was present and he reported that the legislature has approved recruitment on highway billboards and this may help. SCI is also piloting a few 60% Officer positions. These will include benefits, but work hours are Friday/Saturday/Sunday and they can accept additional shifts any other days during the week. Staffing is not just a SCI problem but exists at correctional facilities across the state. *** What is taking place related to buildings at SCI? Work on an Armory Project is continuing and is tentatively to be completed July 1. This building houses the guns if they would ever be needed and is located outside the fenced area. * Meetings related to the design for a new Medical Services Building have restarted. Site visits to existing medical buildings, in other institutions, are taking place with the goal of the best ideas being incorporated in the building planned for SCI. It is hoped that a new Medical Services Building could be completed in 2025. * LED lighting upgrades have been completed in every cell and various other general areas of the institution, with annual savings expected to be $40,000 annually. * A Heating Project has replaced underground heating pipes and new boilers are being installed. *** As of April 1, the mask wearing requirement has been lifted and masks are now optional. In-person visiting has resumed and isappreciatedbyinmatesandfamilymembers. Zoomvisitsare still available. *** On my request, the meeting included a report on the, “Prisoners Assisting With Service Dogs Program,” which was started in February 2016. Since that time 178 dogs have been through SCI. 65 of them have been placed as service dogs, 70 are still in various stages of training, three have become part of a breeding program and 40 were career changed for a variety of reasons. 106 inmates have participated in the program since its inception and only six original members remain. There are currently 16 dogs at SCI in training. *** I also asked about the Lion’s Eyeglass Recycling Program that SCI inmates have been involved with for a number of years. Basically used eyeglasses, that are collected statewide, are brought to SCI from the Lions Camp at Rosholt, WI and they are sorted, cleaned and the lenses strength is measured. They are then shipped back to the distribution center at Rosholt and become availableformissionsaroundtheworld. Beforetheriseofterrorism south of the U. S. border, missions to Mexico and Central American countries were regularly conducted by Wisconsin Lions. In 2021, the up to three inmates who work in this program completed processing 43,150 pairs of glasses. I noted that the Afghan refugees, who were housed at Camp McCoy, in Sparta, were recipients of many pairs of glasses from this program. *** One final good news item shared was a report on the many donations made through inmate fundraisers and donations of items made by inmates in various programs at SCI. An extensive list of donations indicates that area schools, wildlife organizations, food pantries, organizations serving children and numerous fundraisers were the beneficiaries of the inmates handiwork that has a goal of giving back to the community. Of particular note is that the SCI Veterans Group was responsible for overseeing the donation of $14,406.32 to non-profit organizations in the first three years of their being organized and their being housed in a wing of a cell unit dedicated to veterans. *** I should note in closing this report that “inmate” is no longer a term used by prison authorities, but rather my way of identifying prisoners, so the reader knew what/who I was talking about. Currently PIOC (Persons in Our Custody), is the terminology being used to describe those incarcerated at SCI. *** Smile time. A Pearl of Wisdom: There is always death and taxes; however, death doesn’t get worse every year.* People will accept your ideas much more readily if you tell them that Benjamin Franklin said it first. * It’s easier to fight for one’s principles than to live up to them. * I don’t mind going nowhere as long as it’s an interesting path. * It hurts to be on the cutting edge. * If it ain’t broke, fix it till it is. * I don’t get even, I get odder. +++ Arabian Proverb: He who has health has hope, and he who has hope has everything.

BY DAVID JANKOSKI

June 15, 2022