Between April and November 2016, four people have died at the Milwaukee County Jail. The sheriff’s office hopes that increasing the jail staff will lead to better monitoring and supervision of inmates. The office has gone on a hiring spree recently, hiring approximately 25 corrections officers in December. The plan is to have another group of 30 begin training in February. And a final group is scheduled to start training in a few months. Even though the sheriff’s office budgeted for 250 corrections officers, it has only employed about 180 since prior to this recent wave of new hires.
Lack of Jail Staff to Blame?
Two of the four in-custody deaths were very high profile. Terrill Thomas died of dehydration while in his cell, and inmates near Thomas’ cell reported that corrections officers turned off his water faucet in the days leading up to his death. His death was ruled a homicide by the Milwaukee Medical Examiner. In July, a newborn baby passed away after her mother gave birth without any staff noticing. The mother alleged that corrections officers ignored her after she alerted them that her water broke.
Dr. Ronald Shansky, a physician who monitors medical care at the jail, released a report in November stating that greater than one third of all medical positions at the jail and House of Correction remain unfilled. While not attributing a lack of medical care directly to the deaths, the report does show that there are significant issues at the jail. For now, these deaths remain under investigation and no charges have been filed.
If you have loved ones incarcerated at the Milwaukee County Jail or House of Correction, you have a right to be concerned about their safety. It seems like the county and sheriff’s office is addressing concerns by increasing jail staff, but there is much room for improvement. If you have concerns about jail staff and how they have treated you or a loved one, contact one of our attorneys today to discuss your concerns.